The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
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All Critics (19)
| Top Critics (9)
| Fresh (5)
| Rotten (14)
Pretty to look at, but the story itself is overly long and overly wrought, a flabby two-hour tale that feels about three.
Even when "The Duel" isn't very good, at least it's bad in surprising ways.
"The Duel" has a few ideas and a glint of politics but is largely characterized by its perplexing shifts in tone and unpersuasive story turns.
Situations are not always convincing, and motivations are so weak that whole sections of explanation seem to be missing.
Blessed with solid supporting character work and several scenes of genuine good fun, the movie manages to make its nearly two-hour run-time pass by easily enough, but not so much so that the seams on this patchwork quilt don't still show.
Despite promising elements of mixed-genre thrills, the film is finally the underwhelming sum of too many plot devices.
It's not entirely forgettable, yet in our current world where even big stars don't sell movie tickets, The Duel had to have something more in order to really be successful. The film is an unfortunate misfire.
Ambiguous in its morality...
The Duel never feels long, Darcy-Smith allowing events to build with a deliberate delicacy that allows the final face-off between David and Abraham to explode in emotive ferocity.
Muddled, violent Western echoes Apocalypse Now.
Woody Harrelson and Liam Hemsworth try their best to save this very slow-moving Western.
For those capable of working past such strangeness at times, there's plenty to admire about the effort, which hits genre highlights while remaining in a dark place.
The Duel is an entertaining period film about keeping law in the Old West. When a Mexican general's nephew is found murdered in the Rio Grande River Texas Ranger David Kingston is tasked with going undercover to investigate a known vigilante called the Preacher. Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, and Alice Braga lead the cast and deliver solid performances. And the director does an impressive job at setting an authentic tone, and at creating tension and suspense. But the storytelling is rather weak and can drag at times. Also, there's a little too much ambiguity to some of the character subplot. It can be a little slow and listless at times, but overall The Duel is an interesting character drama.
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