This entry in the Shootout At High Noon Marathon may be the first time I ever believed Sharon Stone in a role, who knew she could act!
Written By: Simon Moore
Directed By: Sam Raimi
Sam Raimi has a lot of fun with the Western in The Quick And The Dead. He isn’t interested in deconstructing it, reinventing it, or hearkening back to the glory days of the Western. Mr. Raimi wants to have fun with the genre, no more, no less. To do so he fills his world with interesting characters who we never learn much about, but we don’t need to because The Quick And The Dead is about having fun, not digging into the histories of its characters. This does create a slip-up in the way Mr. Raimi handles Sharon Stone’s character, Ellen. But, otherwise our knowledge of the gunfighters is kept to a bare minimum, and that is all we need to know about them. I didn’t need to know anything about Lance Henriksen’s Ace Hanlon. All I needed was to see him fluff his hair, comb his stache and be revealed as the fake he was. I had fun with that sequence, I had fun with his character, I had lots of fun with The Quick And The Dead.
There is the issue of the development given to Miss Stone’s character, development that is misguided. It was enough to know that she was seeking revenge, I didn’t need to be constantly reminded of it through flashbacks. I felt that her back story could have been given as a prologue to the opening titles and it would have worked better. By giving us her back story in little flashbacks throughout the film the fun vibe of The Quick And The Dead is often cut off and has to be started all over again. Leonardo DiCaprio is given a very minute back story as Kid, but what we are given fits the narrative flow. The same can not be said for Miss Stone’s back story that by the end felt forced, like Mr. Raimi felt he had to include it the way he did and couldn’t think of a better way. Ellen’s back story also leads to a sequence involving a scene with her in a cemetery and an odd gun fight between Russell Crowe and an Indian that felt out of place. The momentum of the film ground to a complete halt during that sequence of scenes, and while it did pick back up again, it hurt the movie.
Another issue I had with The Quick And The Dead revolved around the ending, in particular the non-death of Miss Stone. I would rather she had stayed dead personally. When she was shot it was not what I expected to happen, and I liked that it went down that way. I liked the turning of the tables and her thirst for revenge remaining unsatisfied. The ending Mr. Raimi put forth was fun, I will give him that, but it could have been more. Cort, Mr. Crowe, was also seeking revenge in a way, but he had been a secondary character. I liked the surprising nature of having the secondary character be there at the end instead of the main character. But, that’s not the ending Mr. Raimi went with, he opted instead for a fun, but more conventional conclusion to this tale.
Gripes aside, I did like The Quick And The Dead, I think I really liked it actually. It was quirky and odd, and crazily over the top for the most part, but it was fun. I enjoyed sitting back and going with the story, letting myself have fun with the movie. I had the most fun with Gene Hackman as Herod. When The Quick And The Dead was over I let out a long sigh, because such a fantastic actor is no longer practicing his craft. It’s funny, you never hear much about Mr. Hackman when it comes to the all time greats of acting. But he has to be one of the all time greats, he’s been in so many great movies and he makes every character he plays his own. It would have been so easy for him to play Herod the same as he did Little Bill Daggett in Unforgiven. But he doesn’t, Herod is mean and evil, but he’s still a lot of fun. I found myself rooting for his demise, but unlike Little Bill, I never despised Herod. I do miss Mr. Hackman, I know I have his oeuvre of past films to keep me company, but I miss seeing a new movie open with his name in the cast list.
The Quick And The Dead stumbles a few times, and it’s a bit rough around the edges. But, Mr. Raimi has helped to create an interesting world, full of character I enjoyed spending my time with. He wasn’t looking to reinvent the wheel or change cinema forever, but Mr. Raimi succeeded in what he was trying to do. The Quick And The Dead comes out a fun picture under Mr. Raimi’s tutelage, and I can appreciate that. I love having fun at the movies, and I had a blast with The Quick And The Dead. I mean, it had Sharon Stone in a role where I can actually say she was a competent actress, that has to be worth a lot, right?
Go check out what Edgar had to say at Between The Seats.