Tobey Maguire has showed how powerful he can be in such films as October Sky, The Cider House Rules, and Pleasantville, but his characters in all three of those movies. In Ride with the Devil he is quite the opposite, a fierce soldier who kills at will. He should stick with the weak characters.
What could be a promising movie turns into a slow drag with action scenes intermittently thrown in for the hell of it. Director Ang Lee tries to bring a different side of the Civil War to life, but ends up delivering an overly long and horribly boring film, with bland performances all around.
Tobey Maguire, Skeet Ulrich, Jewel, and Tom Wilkinson all star. You have to be scared when a singer makes her acting debut, and she is chosen to act in a rather dramatic and powerful piece. Luckily, Jewel doesn't do a bad job, especially compared to the dragging story.
At times Ride with the Devil looks like it could turn into a powerful piece of war film, going into the gritty center of guerilla warfare during the Civil War. The main character's finger is blown off. His friend's arm is almost hacked in half by a bullet. A bullet passes through the cheek of a man and goes out the other side, and the man survives. But then it goes into streaks where the characters reflect on life, and you realize just how tired this formula is. Ride with the Devil is there just to promote the actors' abilities, but it doesn't do a good job.
The movie is about 140 minutes long, and that's about 40 minutes too long. It starts off good but quickly begins to dwindle, and after the first hour, I was impatiently looking at the clock. I watched and saw so many scenes that are unnecessary. But worst of all, there are a lot of scenes that slow the pace of this movie. And the ending sucks.
Ride with the Devil is more like a ride with boredom as it tries to impress us more with trite dialogue than gripping action.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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