Four unwitting heroes cross paths on their journey to the sleepy town of Silverado. Little do they know the town where their family and friends reside has been taken over by a corrupt sheriff and a murderous posse. It's up to the sharp-shooting foursome to save the day, but first they have to break each other out of jail, and learn who their real friends are.
Hi Ho Silver! Silverado is directed by Lawrence Kasdan and Lawrence co-writes with his brother Mark. It stars Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Danny Glover, Kevin Costner, Brian Dennehy, Jeff Goldblum Linda Hunt and Rosanna Arquette. Music is by Bruce Broughton and cinematography by John Bailey. As a big Western fan it's most interesting revisiting Silverado some 30 odd years after its release. In context of the time it first came out, when the genre was a dead duck, it was a bold and beautiful romp. How wonderful to find that with one or two 1980s irks aside, it is still a fine Western beast beating a true genre heart. Ok, it's hardly pulling up trees thematically, in the main because it embraces what it homages, every cliche in scene and writing is respectful to its predecessors, the Kasdan's achieving everything they set out to do - entertain like minded film lovers. Cast are on fine form, clearly enjoying the material and setting of such. The locations are outstanding, the vistas gorgeous, with production design to match. Broughton's musical score is rambunctious and lifts the spirit, even if much of it feels 1980s as opposed to the era of films setting. Action scenes are expertly staged, the improbable irrelevant for joyous rewards, and stunt work high end as well. Themes such as prostitution and racism are only given small acknowledgements, but character building is evident at every turn to fully involve audience from first reel to last. Heroes and anti-heroes, psychos, thieves and power hungry villains, no stone left unturned here. This isn't for those after the grim textures of something like Unforgiven and latterly Hostiles, this is more in keeping with something like Tombstone, or even the much divisive Lone Ranger. Saddle up and enjoy if you haven't already done so! 8/10
**Fun, rip-Roaring Western with too many characters in a complicated story** Released in 1985, "Silverado" is a Western about two brothers (Scott Glenn & Kevin Costner) and two other gents (Kevin Kline & Danny Glover) who become friends and ultimately team-up to take on the corrupt sheriff of the New Mexican town Silverado. The first time I watched "Silverado" was in the mid-90s and I was turned off by the implausibility of the prison break scene in the first act, not to mention the nigh goofiness of Costner's character. There's an unrealistic vibe, almost verging on Indiana Jones territory, which is easy to explain since writer/director Lawrence Kasdan also wrote "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981). So it's necessary to accept the implausible heroics to glean from (and enjoy) the meat of the picture, which is essentially a serious story running the gamut of the human condition (e.g. injustice, action, drama, comedy, conflict, etc.). I only bring this up so that viewers who favor realism in their Westerns, like "Shane" (1953), "True Grit" (1969/2010), "The Long Riders" (1980), "Unforgiven" (1992) or "Wyatt Earp" (1994), will make the necessary mental adjustments before attempting to digest the film. "Silverado" is a rip-roaring, rollicking Western in the truest sense. There are a few moral ambiguities (e.g. Jeff Goldblum's character and Paden's conundrum in the story) but, for the most part, the heroes are heroes and the villains drip with evil. One aspect of "Silverado" I like, which most post-50s Westerns lack, is the palpable spirit of life, liberty and joy that the heroes & their friends possess. Despite the various evils they experience (which we can all relate to one way or another) they maintain a certain joy of living, the jubilance of life and freedom itself. As such, the film isn't a downer; it's somehow uplifting. Stories like this need a good villain and Brian Dennehy more than fills the bill. He's almost horrifying as the swaggering corrupt sheriff of Silverado. Remember his part as the sheriff in "First Blood" (1982)? This is essentially the same role, just exponentially WORSE. The main hero is Kline as Paden. Kline is effective at playing the perfect, likable everyman. Glenn is a quintessential Westerner as Emmett while Costner plays his younger gung-ho brother, Jake. The latter is notably different here than in his other Western roles, "Dances with Wolves" (1990) "Wyatt Earp" and "Open Range" (2003). Here he's young & spunky, full of mirth, yet also an expert and deadly gunslinger. After the contrivances and goofiness of the first act, "Silverado" finds its footing and I was absorbed & even thrilled by the story up until around the 70-75-minute mark. Unfortunately, from there the story gets convoluted, although it ends with a long, rousing gunfight in the town. It's just that there are so many characters that you tend to lose track and it seems like some expositional scenes were left on the cutting room floor in order to keep the runtime at just over two hours (133 minutes). The subplots concerning Rosanna Arquette, Jeff Goldblum and Linda Hunt are good examples. However, the positive thing about a story like this is that it's not superficial; hence, the movie's worthy of repeat viewings since you're not likely gonna digest it all in just one or two viewings. Yet an intricate story like this needs at least 2.5 hours of runtime in order to breath and be effective. It demands the length of "Dances with Wolves" and so I'd be interested in seeing a Director's Cut. Speaking of subplots, I enjoyed certain ones like Kline's love for the midget saloon bartender (Linda Hunt), love in a son/mother sense, that is, but their relationship isn't developed enough. You have to read in between the lines. I also appreciated the love and loyalty of the four protagonists; the fact that Glover is a black man is of no issue. Love in its purest sense is spiritual in nature and transcends blood, skin color or raw lust. You never know who you'll meet in life and form a strong love-bond with. It's amazing. So why not a higher rating? I didn't find the story all that captivating like, say, Kasdan's "Grand Canyon" (1991). I'm talking about the last hour where I had to struggle a bit to keep attentive, not to mention keep track of all the characters and what's going on. Then there's the nonsensical editing, obvious missing scenes and a few idiotic implausibilities. Beyond these negatives, "Silverado" has most everything you'd ever want in a Western: gunfights, quick-draw showdowns, smoke-filled saloons, saloon girls, homesteaders, wagon trains, outlaws, posses, jailbreaks, stampedes, box canyons, glorious Western locations, and more. Actually, it verges on overkill. About the only thing it doesn't have are Native Americans and an uncomplicated story. The latter explains why you DON'T see "Silverado" cited on many Best Westerns lists. The film was shot entirely in New Mexico. GRADE: C+