|"Now I don't want to kill you and you don't want to be dead."|
|Time: 132 mins.|
Academy Award nominations for Best Original Score and Best Sound.
SILVERADO doesn't really have an original premise, but the story and the acting make it seem like something completely different. This is a western to its' core. There are great expanses of wilderness, gunfights at every turn, good guys that would rather just be left alone and bad guys who'll kill anyone who gets in their way. The fact that it has some of the best actors of our generation and a great sense of humor, helps make it more fun and enjoyable than most of its' predecessors. Granted it's often more somber than funny. This is a film about the expansion of the West, which more often had a deadly ending than a happy one, but the situations Kasden puts his cowboys in are clever and amusing. These men may get themselves into trouble constantly, but it's rarely their fault and they have the brains to extricate themselves without much hassle.
The film follows Emmett (Glenn), an ex-con looking to start life over in California with his younger brother Jake (Costner). Emmett spent time in prison for his crime he killed old man McKendrick a local wealthy landowner in self defense but it seems his victim's son is unwilling to forgive, forcing Emmett to constantly have to watch his back. He makes a friend in Paden (Kline) when he rescues him from certain death in the desert. Together they go to meet Jake who's landed himself in jail and is about to be hanged for kissing a girl. Well, she happened to be someone else's girl and that person is now dead. Emmett has no choice but to break him out. He can't very well show up in Silverado to see his sister with a story like this. Paden, a man with a checkered past himself, opts out of the crime. He likes Emmett, but he just can't get involved. That is until he gets thrown into jail himself. It seems he killed the man who stole his hat and left him to die in the desert. Why can't the authorities understand he was merely trying to reclaim what was his?
They, of course get away, but with a little extra help from Mal (Glover), a man they helped the day before when he was unjustly attacked in the local saloon. Forced to leave town by the sheriff, Mal was just returning the favor by helping them escape the local posse. Since they're all going to Silverado, they decide to ride together. Along the way they run into a wagon train that was on its way to Silverado as well, but got shanghaied by bandits who killed one of their men and took off with all their money. Emmett tries to get them to just keep moving but they refuse. They can't survive without the money. It's all they had to start their new lives. Hating to see injustice, Emmett convinces Paden and Mal to rescue the money. His crazy plan works and they continue along with the wagon train to Silverado, where unfortunately their troubles are just getting started.
Mal's family has been run off their land. His mother died from an extended illness, his father is living like an animal in local caves trying not to get shot, and his sister Rae is working as a prostitute in the local saloon. Paden runs into his old riding buddy Cobb (Dennehy) who turns out to be the local sheriff, which says a lot about how this town is now run. Their sister is thrilled to see Emmett and Jake but warns them that Silverado has changed. The McKendricks own the town and they will never let Emmett live if he stays for very long. Everyone tries to fit in Jake finds himself a girl, Paden becomes the manager of the local saloon, Mal tries to regain his sister's trust but the peace doesn't last for long. As much as they try to stay out of trouble, the law just won't let them. The McKendricks want Mal, Emmett and Jake dead and Cobb is more than willing to make that happen for a price. Paden tries to stay out of fight, but he know it's unfair and can't stand to see his new friends killed unjustly. The film ends with an extremely cool shootout sequence and the requisite mano-e-mano gunfight on the street. It's not hard to figure out who survives.
SILVERADO is a wonderful film filled with incredible scenery, fantastic gunfights, and interesting characters. It runs on a little too long and has some sequences in it that are completely unnecessary to the plot all of the scenes with Rosanna Arquette but it's still a must-see movie. Kline, Glover, Glenn and Costner are the perfect foursome, each bringing something different to the film. Costner will surprise you as the silly, impetuous young gunfighter Jake. Kasdan gave him this role because he cut him out of THE BIG CHILL. He certainly makes the most of it. Jeff Goldblum and Linda Hunt also give memorable supporting performances. Even with a lower caliber cast, this still would have been a great movie. Kasdan is at his directorial best here because he truly has a love of the material and it shows. I wish he would find something else so near to his heart so he could direct a film worth watching again. Even if you don't like westerns, you'll like this film. It's clever, fun and action-packed.