Dawn Rider (2012)
“Justice is a quick draw”
Director: Terry Miles
Cast: Christian Slater, Jill Hennessy, Donald Sutherland
Synopsis: After his father is killed, John Mason is willing to turn the world inside out to find the man responsible. What he doesn’t know is the killer might be in his own house.
Apparently, Terry Miles’ Dawn Rider is a remake of a 1930s John Wayne B-Movie, although there can’t be many traces of the original in this version. B-Movie regular Christian Slater (Jimmy Hollywood) is given the onerous task of stepping into the Duke’s shoes, although one can’t help feeling this is a less daunting task than if he was playing Rooster Cogburn or The Ringo Kid. Mason is an outlaw on the run, although we never really get the lowdown on just what crimes haunt his past. He drinks too much, but unlike most bad guys he’s a placid drunk, and anyway he’s not really bad, just misunderstood. He’s being pursued by a bounty hunter named Cochrane, played by Donald Sutherland (MASH, The Hunger Games) who effortlessly steals every scene in which he appears. Mason visits his home town, where he makes an uneasy peace with his father (Ken Yanko) right before the old man is gunned down during a robbery. Mason vows revenge, but what he doesn’t know is that one of the robbers was childhood friend Rudd Gordon (Lochlyn Munro – Duets), with whose sister, Alice (Jill Hennessy), he’s beginning a tentative relationship.
Dawn Rider is actually pretty good, although it won’t please moviegoers brought up on a
diet of relentless pace and action. It’s a slow movie that takes its time to establish relationships and motives, even though it sometimes doesn’t know where to go with them. There’s a character called Ben McClure (Ben Cotton) whom Mason befriends and who also falls for Alice, who mostly hangs around the fringes of the story and whom we know from early on will betray Mason and then regret betraying him and try to make amends. Slater is no John Wayne, and he struggles to impose himself, but Munro makes the most of the part of a man whom circumstance forces into the role of bad guy. It’s actually easy to feel quite sorry for his character until the final showdown sees him go a step too far to be believable. Dawn Rider is nothing special, but it’s an adequate time filler.
(Reviewed 7th November 2014)