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What’s it About?

A gang overruns a small mining town murdering their own leader Guerrero (Trejo) in a cold-blooded power grab.

“Dead in Tombstone”

Directed by Roel Reiné

5 out of 10

By Vic

“Dead in Tombstone” is a direct to video western / revenge flick from director Roel Reine (Death Race 2 and 3) which stars Mickey Rourke and Danny Trejo in the lead roles and Anthony Michael Hall as the leader of a pack of outlaw bank robbers, named “Rojo.”  The movie serves as a vehicle for Trejo but it is nothing really special or showcases in full,  the talent that could be potentially tapped in Trejo or anyone else for that matter. The film, while not a total loss, looks good but isn’t very impressive or daring.

The movie is cliche ridden and very conventional and it derails any chances of being something really worthwhile or long lasting. It’s forgettable and standard. Though the actors do retain some charisma, the pacing and story are undermined by lackluster performances. Too bad because Reine does have a good eye for shots and composition even though the material calls for restraint and he sometimes gives us a music video looking pallette that doesn’t gel.

Rourke supplies a VO for the film stating that the “new frontier” is a “pit of vipers” and that there are no real “God fearing men” anymore. Rojo, (or Red) at the movie’s start, escapes a hanging when Guerrero (Trejo) and his men rescue him and make their way to Edendale, Arizona.  Once there, Rojo finds out that there is a land dispute and mining rights issue at Edendale and proposes to rob the bank in town and then take off with the loot, leaving Edendale behind. Guerrero, himself, appears to be an outlaw with a conscience. They get around to robbing the bank and as they try to get away the Sheriff intervenes and Rojo dispatches him along with his men.

Actress Dina Meyer (Dragonheart, Starship Troopers) plays Calathea, the widow of the murdered Sheriff.  She witnesses the murder and further commits to exacting revenge on Rojo, It appears that Rojo wants to stick around going against the plans set by Guerrero and the rest of the men. Threatening to leave, Rojo decides that G is a threat and he and his men eventually turn on and surround Guerrero planning to eliminate him. After he is then betrayed by Rojo and is shot down in a saloon he finds himself in the presence of Mickey Rourke who plays “The Blacksmith” or the devil to the likes of you and I.

It seems that nasty old Satan wants G’s soul buts G wants revenge and promises Satan the souls of those who had betrayed him if he is allowed to go back to Edendale (which Red re-names “Tombstone”) and carry out his revenge. The Blacksmith finds the offer enticing and allows G to return to get even but like always there are conditions. Aren’t there always with Old Nick?

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Reine’s film uses the more recognizable elements that we are all familiar with regarding the genre. He uses coaches, dirty and grimy saloons, streets, barns, farmhouses and jails. While using these sets, period costumes and backgrounds to decent effect the movie still feels bare and a bit cheap. Reine’s action reeks of ultra modern film-making and editing where it is all about the quick fix in style and mood.

The film  makes compromises in structure in order to get to Trejo’s revenge mayhem which consists of corny cliches (like the ole “But we killed you!” moment which happens as soon as G returns), religious overtones and hokey over-stylized fight scenes. But Trejo looks good doing it all and even when he and Meyer unite to clean up the town of Rojo and his men, the film still appears like a minimal effort. Exchanges are predictable, forced and Rourke even looks tired and bored. I would have even welcomed some scenery chewing ala Al Pacino in this film.

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Reine’s visual trickery will rub some the wrong way but in small doses, I felt his style had merit and found it pleasing to look at. His colors pop and his reveals, pans and editing aren’t too shabby either. But mind you, I said in small doses. All the violence, coach chases, shootouts and fisticuffs have a grindhouse sensibility which Trejo pulls off with a gravelly voice and giddy precision but Rourke and Michael Hall do not fare as well. Meyer, though, is a tough scrapper as her great looks and talent for B movie physicality comes across very real and mature.

She is one of the highlights of the movie and she works fine off of Trejo’s battle hardened Guerrero. If you are looking for a 90 minute brain freezer of a western that is visually ok but transparent, cliche and dumb then be my guest and check this one out. Trejo and Meyer make the film a passable experience but nothing more. Michael Hall, and to a much greater extent, Rourke, are ashamedly wasted here. Rourke’s devil is bland, dull and he just phones it in. If you like any type of B movie revenge flick in any genre (in this case a western) then “Dead in Tombstone” may be a no brainer for you.

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