Texas Rangers (2001)
“Count Your Bullets.”
Texas Rangers (2001)
Director: Steve Miner
Cast: James Van Der Beek, Rachael Leigh Cook, Ashton Kutcher
Synopsis: A ragtag group of youngsters band together after the American Civil War to form the Texas Rangers, a group charged with the dangerous, ruthless duty of cleaning up the West.
We all know that Hollywood filmmakers are quite prepared to place the ‘based on a true story’ precursor on their movie in order to establish a spurious degree of authenticity irrespective of whether any of the events depicted in their movie actually took place, but Steve Miner tramples all over his film’s credibility by making one of the first Texas Rangers a black man. A quick check on Google tells us that the Rangers didn’t employ their first black ranger until 1988, more than a century after the events depicted in this sorry attempt at macho posturing that is actually more of an unintentional comedy than an action-adventure.
Dylan McDermott (Hardware, ‘Til There Was You) plays Leander McNelly a consumptive former Confederate Officer tasked with forming a unit of peace keepers known as the Texas Rangers to enforce law and order. After recruiting a group of callow, inexperienced youths, he sets his sights on cattle rustler and gang leader King Fisher (Alfred Molina – Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Hoax) a bad guy so villainous that he really should have a waxed moustache to toy with. McNelly’s problem, however, is that Fisher outwits him at almost every turn, which makes you wonder what exactly is in those books on military strategy that the ailing McNelly bequeaths to young Lincoln Dunnison (James Van Der Beek). Unlike McNelly, Dunnison’s reason for being in the Rangers is personal – he saw Fisher’s men gun down his parents and brother.
This is pretty awful stuff, packed with clichés and stereotypes. McDermott’s McNelly is sullen and perpetually weary, and spits out nuggets of so-called wisdom every time he opens his mouth. King Fisher, meanwhile, is a cartoon villain, pure evil who exists only to spread misery and ill-will (the real Fisher stopped doing bad things when asked and actually went on to be a respectable rancher), and Molina almost looks embarrassed to be playing the part at times. Van Der Beek makes a bland hero, and is easily overshadowed by a young Ashton Kutcher. If you like movies which have men firing two guns while running very fast, this is the one for you, but otherwise you’d be best off steering well clear.
(Reviewed 20th November 2014)