The Quick and the Dead (1995)

Sam Raimi’s “The Quick and the Dead” is a Western like no other: First off, Raimi’s primary oeuvre at this point was horror, so his embrace of another cult genre gives it a certain panache and credibility. Then of course, there’s Sharon Stone in the lead role, in what I’m assuming is a rare female lead within the genre, and while she’s sexualized (as one would expect from a Sharon Stone vehicle from the 1990s), her allure isn’t limited to her physicality. Her character has a laser focus and abilities to match all the male cowboys who surround her, and she commands the screen in a role that has surprisingly few lines for such a big star. Meanwhile, Gene Hackman is effectively detestable as the crooked leader of Redemption, where Stone comes looking for revenge. They’re also surrounded by first-rate supporting work by Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe, not to mention a veritable cornucopia of genre actors like Lance Henriksen and Keith David in entertaining supporting roles. The middle part has a tendency to drag so a more judicious editing job could have improved the pacing, because it definitely feels like it’s about twenty minutes too long, but luckily Raimi’s frenetic camerawork keeps things interesting for the most part, and even when it’s dull, there are the terrific sets to take in. It’s not an underappreciated classic, but you could do a lot of worse than this for a passive Saturday afternoon movie.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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