DIRECTOR: RICHARD DONNER
CINEMATOGRAPHY: VILMOS SZIGMOND
MUSIC: RANDY NEWMAN
WRITTEN BY: WILLIAM GOLDMAN
CAST: Mel Gibson, James Garner, Jodie Foster, Graham Greene, James Coburn, Alfred Molina
ONE WORD: Fun to watch.
MAVERICK is a fun film to watch. But like many comedies, it has a hard time arriving at a satisfying end. But, in between the start and end, it has a lot of fun bits that are very enjoyable. It really is, a melodrama just asking that we hiss and boo, all the way through as if you were at the local theater having fun with the kids.
Mel Gibson, as Maverick, is not a sheriff of any kind, but a gunslinger that is more interested in getting to a poker game on a Mississipi boat, than he is in any law and order. But before he gets there he has to come up with enough cash to enter the high stakes affair. And his adventures to get there are the parts of the film that make it worthwhile seeing. Of special note, is the tribe of Indians led by Graham Greene, whose film material has never shown much inclination towards humor. Graham, lets it all hangout with his band of warriors, in what is one of the most satisfying film bits this reviewer has ever enjoyed. Between himself and Maverick they manage to extort a rich Russian traveler. And the tribe makes a profit at it... geee, Indians have never done this before, have they.?
Maverick gets to the game, eventually, and plays well. The cheaters get caught and punished with a bath. And the winners, so far, get a nightcap to avoid falling asleep.
Jodie Foster, as a woman of opportunity, also trying to get to the game, adds to the gang fun, although she doesn't come off as the typical typecast sexy western lady. She is more of a businesswoman that finds her way around, regardless of what it takes. She's more interesting this way, but not quite as much fun as one would like to find. From her, one gets the idea that someone would drop out of a game (so she could win) just in exchange for personal favors that would benefit her cause. But Maverick is up to task. And she loses in the final rounds.
All is well, until the real sheriff in charge decides to run off with the money winnings. And the film has a hard time ending from then on.
Very enjoyable, and a fine cinematographer giving us some beautiful pictures of the American countryside to boot, makes this film fun to stay with. Don't expect anything serious, or anything closely related to the old TV show, because there are none. This is a Hollywood comedy through and through, and a fun one to sit through. One does not really come to see a Richard Donner film and expect meanings and intents to be oozing out of every frame, but sometimes the chemistry and fun is there, and with some excellent camera work, this film comes off better than it really is ... a fun romp ... nothing else.
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