Tombstone (1993)


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Rating: The Good – 75.8
Genre: Western
Duration: 131 mins
Director: George Pan Cosmatos
Stars: Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton

One of the few modern westerns that is very much its own film in that it wasn’t influenced by the style of Sergio Leone’s films or the straight-laced strength of John Ford’s. Kurt Russell stars as the legendary lawman Wyatt Earp who moves to the boomtown of Tombstone with his family in search of wealth as a hotelier. Unfortunately, the actions of a lawless local gang known as the Cowboys force him to take up his guns again and with the help of his old friend Doc Holliday, tackle them head on.

Tombstone is a film built on tremendous dialogue, superb performances from a stellar cast, and some strong hard-assed undiluted vengeance. Too many films, particularly westerns, have been guilty of shying away from the grittiness of vengeance but Cosmatos’ film does no such thing as Earp and Holliday dispense justice the old west way and keep dispensing until the job is done. Russell’s Earp is near perfect as he gives us a very human interpretation of the larger than life character. Even when he’s knee deep in butt-kickins he comes across as just a man only with a particularly cool head and serious disposition. Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday, on the other hand, is nothing short of mythic as he imbued the character with a cool ruthlessness that will have you cheering for him until the end. Kevin Jarre’s script is a treat for the ears and when delivered by Russell, Kilmer, and the equally excellent Michael Biehn as the truly nasty Johnny Ringo, the result is perhaps the slickest sounding of all modern westerns. The action is handled expertly by Cosmatos and paired with Bruce Broughton’s rousing score, it takes on an epic quality at times. There are too many top supporting actors on show to list them in their entirety but the always reliable Bill Paxton, Sam Elliot, and Stephen Lang (who yet again shows us the range to his acting, this time as one of cinema’s best cowards) deserve special mention.

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