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Appaloosa Reviews

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Are there two more stronger, silenter types in modern movies than Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen? Each of these actors are a throw back to the days when cowboy stars were manly men who mean what they say and only say what they mean and nothing else. - Richard Crouse,

Appaloosa Reviews

"Mortensen is wonderful. He's one of the best actors at not doing anything and making you watch him all the more."

Ty Burr
Boston Globe: Take 2
October 2008 Virgil and Everett, everyone involved in "Appaloosa" favors professionalism over bluster. This is especially true of Mortensen, whose features are half-hidden behind facial hair. Everett says very little and spends a lot of time just watching the other characters, so Mortensen's performance resides almost entirely in his eyes, which register tiny, unmistakable nuances of surprise, suspicion and amusement.

These are what make the movie worth watching

A O Scott
International Herald Tribune
18 September 2008

Viggo steals the picture. His always fresh and relaxed expressions, with dark subtexts dancing just below the surface, never cease to astound me. The bond that ties him to Mr. Harris is also what wrenches them apart; one tries to hide his lack of education, the other tries to conceal his I.Q, and both men act rugged in their denial of their covert affection.

Rex Reed
The New York Observer
17 September 2008

...the film also features two stars so deep in their roles I found them almost unrecognizable: Viggo Mortensen as the sheriff's deputy and Jeremy Irons as the evil rancher. All of these actors reinvent the types they play.....Irons is most satisfactorily vile, and Mortensen is inspired as a sidekick, who, for a change, is smarter and more insightful than his boss.

Roger Ebert
September 4, 2008

...Perhaps not surprisingly, that's also when Mr. Mortensen's character enters the spotlight more fully; he's the sort of actor who can make a scene more interesting with something as simple as a shift of his weight. And in a movie with a respectable level of production detail, one gets the feeling that he chose his own exquisite facial hair: His mustache and goatee give even Daniel Plainview of "There Will Be Blood" a run for his money.

Nicolas Rapold
New York Sun
19 September 2008

It goes without saying that Mortensen and Harris are tremendous as both shoot-first lawmen and vulnerable souls, both actors gifting the screen dense performances built on exhilarating restraint.

Brian Orndorf
2 October 2008

Mortensen comes off best. Not only does he seem like a genuine artifact of the late 19th Century, his plain-spoken charisma is well-suited to the western genre. ....But with or without that fantastic mustache, Mortensen should certainly do another western, soon. Preferably he should do one with a real sense of danger to go along with all the neat, tidy, highfalutin' honor and decency.

Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
2 October 2008

Well, I adored it. Why? It's for grown-ups. It's well-plotted, based on the book by Robert B. Parker, and Harris directed the hell out of it. He and Viggo Mortensen have a wonderful, deliberate, subtle time hanging out as two "lawmen" in a world where actors actually have something to do. I'm sorry, but western heroes (and anti-heroes) are sexy..... Actors should love this movie. Harris and Mortensen continue to amaze.

Anne Thompson
7 October 2008

Harris and Mortensen, who co-starred in 2005's A History of Violence, do some of the tangiest acting of their respective careers, and they make a knockout team. Everett, who carries an enormous double-barreled 8-gauge shotgun, shows a quiet erudition in his conversations with Virgil.

Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
18 September 2008

As played by Mortensen, who memorably co-starred with Harris in "A History of Violence," Hitch is just as weathered a character and has notably eccentric facial hair thrown into the bargain. The two men collaborate so well, in fact, that the real love match of "Appaloosa" is between the two of them and no one else.

Kenneth Turan,
LA Times
19 September 2008

Mortensen in particular looks right at home in the Wild West, handling his ever-present eight-gauge with the assurance of a pool shark aiming his cue.

Chris Knight
National Post
19 September 2008

Let me start by saying that Mortensen is terrific as the quiet Everett Hitch, a gunman who speaks when necessary. He watches with genuine dismay as his friend falls in love, knowing it will mean the end of their partnership, and then stands by while his friend is deeply hurt. Yet he cares enough for his good friend's happiness to find a solution and solve the problem, asking for nothing in return but to be left alone to do so.

John Foote
In Contention
6 September 2008-09-07

Mortensen is outstanding as Hitch. For one thing, with his thick goatee and sharp features, he looks fascinating. That's important because his use of expressions and reactions are essential to understanding him.

Bill Goodykoontz
The Arizona Republic
2 October 2008

While many might not appreciate this slow and slightly revisionist western, I'm going to put it up there with "Open Range" and "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" as one of best. Go to see Ed Harris kick tail, but stay for one of Viggo Mortensen's best performances.

Coop Cooper
The Small Town Critic
1 October 2008

Viggo Mortensen only gets better and better each time you see him, and as Everett Hitch there isn't a complaint to be had.

Brad Brevet
Rope of Silicon
2 October 2008

Harris and (especially) Mortensen are the magic that makes this movie work so well, film fans can only hope, based on their chemistry here and in "A History of Violence," they are given many more opportunities to work together. They're right up there with DeNiro and Pesci as one of the screen's best team.

Edward Havens
23 September 2008 weathered and craggily handsome as any butte in Monument Valley.

Richard Corliss on Mortensen, Harris and Irons
19 September 2008

It has the rangy Mortensen, who looks so right he seems to have stepped out of a Daguerreotype.

And it has the flinty Harris -- who, like true flint, has the remarkable ability to stand still in this moving world, and allow the most remarkable sparks to be struck from him.

Stephen Whitty
The Star-Ledger
18 September 2008

As solid as Harris is, though, he chivalrously allows the movie to belong to Mortensen. Hitch is a laconic, loyal and literate man, whose skill as a gunman belies his educated ways. He is sort of the Doc Holliday (minus the TB and gambling) to Cole's Wyatt Earp. With his chiseled, windburned, mustachioed face, Mortensen is a dead ringer for men you'd see in an actual frontier photo. Because Hitch is the archetypal man of few words, Mortensen delivers a wonderfully nuanced, subtle performance; one sad glance speaks volumes more about Hitch's devotion to Cole than any soliloquy could.

Jim Vejvoda
18 September 2008

Mortensen is funnier than we tend to remember, and he successfully pulls of Everett's jealousy about Virgil and Allie's relationship without pushing it into homoeroticism or farce.

Katey Rich
Cinema Blend
18 September 2008

...a lean, squinty-eyed Mortensen in particular showing yet again what a magnetic, underrated star he is.

People Magazine
19 September 2008

...Holding one's body still in front of a movie camera while also giving the sense of a mind in motion is a specialized art, one with few masters. Paul Newman comes to mind, notably in his later career, as does Robert Duvall, a perennial movie cowboy who will surely wish that Appaloosa had come his way. And now, it would seem, there is Mortensen, who steals this film by doing nothing much more than lean against doorways and bar counters. Like Harris, Mortensen is a great listener, and good listeners--in life and in movies--barely move. That quality is just right for the role of Hitch, whose life hangs on Cole's next word and slightest gesture. It's an old truth, and not just about westerns: When the talking stops, the dying begins.

Chuck Wilson
Village Voice
17 Septmeber 2008

But while the story is compelling, and the scenes lush, none of that compares to the performance given by Mortensen. He is, simply, Hitch. There is not one moment that seems like acting, or where he seems like anything other than his character. Mortensen's performance is flawless - so real that the film seems more like a look into the past, rather than a fictional slice of entertainment. You can see his power, his strength, and his intelligence as easy as you can see the all-prevalent dusty wind.

Monika Bartyzel
8 September 2008
Early Films

Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen, two of my favorite actors today, had the on-screen chemistry that every filmmaker dreams of. Rugged, badass and tough lawman who just flat out kicked ass through the whole film. Viggo played Everett Hitch, the faithful deputy/ sidekick and even the sometimes needed vocab checker to the infamous lawman Virgil Cole, played by Ed Harris. They were brilliant. There just isn't much more I can say to communicate how well they were in Appaloosa.

6 September 2008

Are there two more stronger, silenter types in modern movies than Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen? Each of these actors are a throw back to the days when cowboy stars were manly men who mean what they say and only say what they mean and nothing else.

Richard Crouse
6 September 2008

And if you want to know what the film's "about," above and beyond the story (which is a deliberate but well-constructed yarn in its own right), it's "about" the relationships that certain men build, where they form a partnership that supercedes everything else, a code that exists that is more binding than law. It's about the way that code changes everything else they do. And when you're making a movie about that, and it stars Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen, and Harris is directing which means that there's all the room in the world for these two to just act the shit out of every unspoken silence, every action beat unfolding as a duet between these two serious badasses. This film is all about the soul behind the gunslinger, and it's verrrrry subtle stuff.

Ain't it Cool news
5 October 2008

....a perfect, dryly comic Viggo Mortensen.

Tom Hall
The Back Row Manifesto
6 September 2008

The movie's biggest problem in getting this idea across is that it requires Everett to spell it all out, as a friend, to Virgil. Everett sees all (Harris's best filmmaking involves depicting Everett watching others, particularly Allison), but he ends up explaining things that are best left shown. The upside of this is that it's Mortensen doing the explaining, which is almost as fine as watching Mortensen carry himself like a elegant warrior in chaps across a dusty road.

Lorey Sebastian
Christian Science Monitor
19 September 2008

Theodore Roosevelt coined the phrase: "Speak softly and carry a big stick." While Appaloosa is your everyday western, Viggo Mortensen is no ordinary actor. Mortensen's Oscar-class performance as Everett Hitch was masterful as a poetic yet fierce officer of the law. He "spoke softly," but his big stick was an 8-gauge shotgun......Playing Hitch, Mortensen is horrifically convincing as a cool customer who is not only intelligent but quick on the gun and knows when to pick his battles.

Parimal M. Rohit
19 September 2008

While Harris is quite good as Cole -- if you want the steely-eyed man of few words, he's your man -- Mortensen is outstanding as Hitch. For one thing, with his thick goatee and sharp features, he looks fascinating. That's important because his use of expressions and reactions are essential to understanding him.

Bill Goodykoontz
Gannett News Service
September 18, 2008

Their bond [between Cole and Hitch] is easily one of the best portrayed in the entire Western canon. Viggo Mortensen's Hitch outdoes Val Kilmer's role as Doc Holliday, something I wouldn't have thought possible. And the interactions between these two extremely efficient killers and decent men is movie-making magic.
9 January 2009

The best male duo to grace the screens in 2008 was, by far, Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen.

Cinematical Seven: The Best On-Screen Chemistry of 2008
Monika Bartyzel
31 December 2008

Director Ed Harris's Western reinvents nothing, but neither is it a cinematic cliché. Blessed by the central duo of Harris and the great Viggo Mortensen (aided by Renee Zellweger, Jeremy Irons, and the king of character actors, Lance Henriksen), Appaloosa is just a solid, well-crafted oater that rarely puts a foot wrong. The ending may be a bit rushed but in hindsight it makes emotional sense. If you like Westerns, or even just Viggo Mortensen, you can't go wrong.

Steve Burgess
The Tyee
December 2008

As an admitted Viggo fanatic, it was nice to see Mortensen play second fiddle in Appaloosa. Ed Harris is Marshal Virgil Cole and Mortensen is his trusted friend and fellow gunmen Everett Hitch. The way the actors play off one another is hilarious, with Mortensen's Hitch continually assisting his partner's attempts at reading any word longer than two syllables. Where Mortensen really stands out is in their moments apart, however. Hitch recognizing the problems his presence brings to Cole's new relationship and what sacrifices he has to make to keep the small town safe. Mortensen is always in top form but it is delightful to see he does not have to take the lead to do so.

Most under-appreciated performances list
Brian Zitzelman
Seattle Movie Examiner
December 2008
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Last edited: 15 February 2010 08:13:08