There’s not a lick of dialogue for maybe the first 15 minutes of this daring action Western… unless moans of pain count as dialogue. Liam Neeson (Batman Begins) is hunting Pearce Brosnan (After the Sunset) through the rugged mountain West just after the Civil War — and gets a good shot off that lands in the prey’s shoulder, necessitating a rather grisly moment of getting that slug dug out of meaty flesh with a bowie knife. Yikes. It’s all thrillingly cinematic, this bare and spare chase movie that holds off on explanations and motives for a loooong time and just revels in the power of the image and the pacing and the relentlessness of its forward momentum. And even the disconcerting shift into the mystical it takes in the final act, after hewing so roughly and authentically to earthy reality, is exhilarating, stripping an already frugal film down to its component parts, narrowing our field of vision down to two men bereft of everything except one gun, one bullet, and the unbridgeable bitterness between them. Writer (with Abby Everett Jaques)/director David Von Ancken moves his characters, and us, beyond the realm of reason and into one of pure, driving feeling.
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