Nice try from Raimi, but ultimately it creeps just above average.
The Western is a tough genre to tackle in the modern age, more so when it's post Dances With Wolves and Unforgiven's masterclasses 101. But tackling both these challenges is nothing to the one which director Sam Raimi asks of the audience in his stab at the genre.
A female gunslinger is here played by a Hollywood beauty, Sharon Stone, but she isn't right for the lead role. She obviously looks gorgeous and she broods and pouts better than most of her modern day peers, but she lacks a menacing streak, a bit of believable nastiness that just might have lifted the film to better heights. We understand and expect the vulnerability she shows, but to succeed here in the testosterone fuelled town of Redemption, she's going to have to convince as a tough gal. And Stone just isn't up to the task.
The film does have good points to enjoy though, very much so. The story, although gimmicky, works well as an entertaining popcorn munching tale, while the cast list reads like a whose who of solid and quality thespers, (Gene Hackman wandering in from Unforgiven to play Little Bill's ghost, Russell Crowe, Leonardo DeCaprio, Keith David, Pat Hingle & Lance Henriksen). Also into the plus column is the always impressive cinematography from Dante Spinotti, and there is no denying Sam Raimi's keen eye for detail, with his zooming shots a real treat during the shoot out sequences - his Spaghetti Western leanings further enhanced by Alan Silvestri's pasta influenced score.
Yet in spite of this bravado attempt, and acknowledging that the makers have tried something different, The Quick & The Dead isn't quite quick enough on the draw to outlive the leading lady misstep. 6/10
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