Long after he directed the Evil Dead movies, and long before he directed Spider-Man, Sam Raimi brought together an all-star cast to make a modernized western film called The Quick and the Dead. The title is catchy, the cast is seductive, but the script is laughable.
Sharon Stone stars as a woman who has wandered into a small town to enroll herself in a fight-to-the-dead gunslinging tournament. Her goal is not the handsome pot at the end; she wants the town's mayor (Gene Hackman)... dead. He killed her father (Gary Sinise) long ago and she wants revenge. There are other shooters lurking around as well, including a killer-turned-priest (Russell Crowe, before he was well known) who is being forced to fight, and a yearning son (Leonardo DiCaprio, shortly before the peak of his career). In many ways, The Quick and the Dead is a compilation of the old and new; Stone and Hackman are no longer the big draws that they once were, while Crowe and DiCaprio are going strong. The movie also blends the older westerns with a more modern approach, like huge explosions and deeper characters.
However, in the end, The Quick and the Dead is no different than any other western, and this is where Raimi fails. He obviously is a fan of westerns and The Quick and the Dead is more of a tribute to them than an update, and it suffers greatly. Raimi doesn't leave any of the clichés to the imagination. There is a decent amount of action, but even the action suffers from Raimi's determination to pay homage to the westerns of old. The action scenes don't look much different than those cheesy fights in earlier movies, except for clearer picture, better sound and a few more explosions.
The script is also pretty bad. Despite the acting talent, most of the characters are shallow and have their fair share of lame one-liners. Even when they are saying full sentences, things seem forced and unbelievable.
I was really expecting something better from this movie. With the cast and talent involved, The Quick and the Dead could and should have been a great modern western. Instead, it is a cheesy remake of dozens of other movies.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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