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Film / Appaloosa

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"Like my father, I'd been West Point, and I was good at soldiering. But soldiering didn't allow for much expansion of the soul. So after the war between the States and fighting Indians, I turned in my commission and rode away to see how much I could expand it. First time I met Virgil Cole was when I and my eight-gauge backed him up in a showdown he was having with some drunken mountain men. Virgil asked me right there on the spot if I'd partner up with him and his peacekeeping business. Which is why I was with him now, and why I still carry the eight-gauge. We'd been keeping the peace together for the last dozen years or so. And as we looked down on a town called Appaloosa, I had no reason to doubt we'd be doing just that for the foreseeable future. But life has a way of making the foreseeable that which never happens, and the unforeseeable that which your life becomes."
Everett Hitch

A 2008 Western film based on the Robert B. Parker novel of the same name. Directed by, produced by, adapted for film and starring Ed Harris as Virgil Cole, who along with his friend Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen) become lawmen of the town of Appaloosa, New Mexico in order to stop Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons), a rancher who killed Cole's friend and the town's previous marshal, Jack Bell.

A woman named Allie French (Renée Zellweger) arrives in town as well, and soon, the mission to take down Randall Bragg becomes more complicated than any of them could ever imagine.

  • Affably Evil: The Punch-Clock Villain Shelton brothers can act nicer than Virgil.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Bragg uses his political connections to escape justice, and the same town leaders who hired Cole and Hitch to stop him are soon quite chummy with Bragg. Subverted when Hitch decides to just kill him.
  • BFG: Hitch's eight-gauge shotgun.
  • Big Bad: Randall Bragg is the one who sets the events of the film in motion.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Hitch kills Bragg, but in order to do so he has to resign as Cole's deputy - and lifelong friend - and has to leave town.
  • Book Dumb: Virgil occasionally needs Everett to tell him what big words mean.
  • Composite Character: in the book, Joe Whitford, the witness against Bragg, is one of Marshall Bell's deputies, who Bragg allowed to flee after killing Bell as a Pet the Dog moment, while in the film, Whitford is the Token Good Teammate of Bragg's cowboys and also the man who was present with fellow Bragg rider Dean during a confrontation with Virgil and Everett (that scene was also in the book, but Dean's companion was a Spear Carrier who was never named or got any dialogue).
  • Cop Killer: Randall Bragg kills Appaloosa town marshal Jack Bell and two of his deputies at the beginning of the film.
  • Cultured Badass: Hitch is as well-educated as he is good with a gun. And he's very good with a gun.
  • A Deadly Affair: The ultimate reason, the last drop, that pushes Everett to challenge Bragg in a duel and kill him is Bragg affair with Allie.
  • Demoted to Extra: With a dosage of Adaptational Villainy. In the book, the Shelton's cousin Russell accompanies them in breaking Bragg out of jail, takes part in the Enemy Mine situation through Injun Country, and upon arrival at the town, reveals that he's the local law when they want to put Bragg in jail, feeling that after what they've been through together it would be fair to get that into the open rather than use it to surprise them. In the film, he wasn't involved in rescuing Bragg and is only on screen for about a minute, first accepting Bragg when they drop him off at the jail, and then in a Wham Shot when, during the Show Down At High Noon Ring reveals that they made a mistake "locking your prisoner in my cousin Russell's jail" as Russell and Bragg appear on the roof and start shooting at them, while Ring and Mackie also draw.
  • Enemy Mine: Cole, Hitch, Allie, Bragg and the Shelton Brothers agree not to try anything around each other as long as they are stuck in Injun Country.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Bragg. And everyone knows it.
  • The Gunslinger: Cole is a Quick Draw example.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Cole and Hitch are heterosexual but have a close bond.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: the closest thing Everett has to a love interest in the movie.
  • Karma Houdini: Combined with What Happened to the Mouse?, when several of Bragg's nastier henchmen like Vince and Dean remain The Unfought.
    • Karma Houdini Warranty: In one of the sequel novels, Vince, Dean and the rest of the former Bragg hands have turned to train robbery and are all killed or arrested.
  • The Lancer: Hitch is the deputy to Cole.
  • Love Triangle: The relationship between Cole, Hitch and Allie at the beginning.
  • The Paragon: Cole.
  • Power is Sexy: Played for drama with Allie, who is sexually attracted to the most powerful man in every situation. So she fall in love with Cole, who is the fastest gunslinger and most in command guy in town; then tries to charm Everett, who is a close second; and ends up having an affair with Bragg, when he returns as the most probable future ruler of the town. Jokingly, Everett and Cole compare her to a mare, who mates with the best stallion around at the time. More pragmatically, the whore who slept with Everett claims Allie -who has already been a widow- tries to have always a plan B, in case something goes wrong with her main love interest. While this sounds as a very callous behavior, she kinda justifies Allie, claiming that life for a lone woman who has lost her man is not simple.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: After Bragg manages to get out from under the murder conviction, he seems to cease all criminal activity in Coles's jurisdiction. He is still a murderous snake but he is not willing to take on Cole and Hitch again and he assumes that they will not go after him if he does not do anything illegal. Instead he starts buying out the town with the intention of gaining enough political power to have Cole and Hitch fired as law enforcement.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The three town fathers who hire Virgil and Everett are fairly accommodating and understanding to them, and while they are willing to socialize with Bragg after his pardon, it appears to be in a fairly resigned way, now that they don't see any legal means of beating his influence (in the film at least, in the book he does outright buy out all the businesses of all three).
  • Riding into the Sunset: Hitch, after killing Bragg in a duel at the end of the film.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Bragg manages to get a presidential pardon for his crimes.
  • The Western: Set in 1882 New Mexico.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Bragg is both well-known to be a bad guy behind a lot of criminal activity in the area, but he's also wealthy and well-connected - he even returns from a prison escape with a Presidential pardon! - which (almost) makes him untouchable.
  • What You Are in the Dark: The Token Good Teammate on Bragg's crew could have just packed up his stuff and rode away from trouble. However, he cannot stomach the fact that Bragg is goign to get away with murdering the marshal and the two deputies. He goes to Cole and offers to testify even if it puts him in grave danger from Bragg and his crew.
  • Wicked Cultured: Bragg. He's especially annoyed at those who aren't cultured, such as Cole.