Saturday, February 26, 2022

#2,715. The Last Rites of Ransom Pride (2009) - 21st Century Westerns Triple Feature

Though unquestionably a unique entry in the western genre, writer / director Tiller Russell’s The Last Rites of Ransom Pride, with its jump cuts, quick flashbacks, and rapid-fire images, can, at times, be more than a little grating.

When outlaw Ransom Pride (Scott Speedman) is gunned down in a Mexican village, his girlfriend Juliette Flowers (Lizzy Caplan) tries to make good on her promise to lay his body to rest on his family’s homestead. But Ransom’s remains are being held by Bruja (Cote de Pablo), and she’s refusing to turn him over.

So Juliette strikes a deal: she’ll lure Ransom’s brother Champ (Jon Foster) to Mexico and turn him over to Bruja in exchange for her lover’s body.

Despite the objections of his father Early Pride (Dwight Yoakum), a Reverend who was once an outlaw himself, Champ agrees to accompany Juliette, though the two will face a number of challenges before reaching their destination, including a pair of hired guns (Jason Priestley and W. Earl Brown) sent to kill Juliette by Early’s former partner Shepherd Graves (Kris Kristofferson).

There’s a hell of a lot of style on display throughout The Last Rites of Ransom Pride, with Russell pulling out all the stops; random images flash across the screen, often jarringly so (sometimes there are even brief clips of future events mixed in), and the action shifts from one timeline to the next without warning (though he’s killed in the opening scene, Speedman’s Ransom turns up occasionally in black and white flashbacks).

The characters are an odd bunch, though a few of them, including Caplan’s Juliette and Yoakum’s Early Pride, are damned interesting. Yoakum is especially strong as the drunken Early, a former Confederate guerrilla who still mourns the death of his wife, which he blames on his youngest son Champ (she died giving birth to him). There are also a few colorful side characters that drop in and out, including Bill Mankuma’s Sergeant and a sideshow dwarf played by Peter Dinklage.

In the end, though, it’s a case of too much glitz and not enough story, making The Last Rites of Ransom Pride yet another entry in the very crowded “all style, no substance” category.
Rating: 5.5 out of 10

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