Silverado (1985) – Review

2 Stars

There is enough plot in Silverado to suffice two westerns. It’s as if writer/director Lawrence Kasdan and his writing partner Mark Kasdan couldn’t decide what to edit out. The result is a frustrating movie that moves in fits, often losing its way to the predictable outcome. Too many characters dot the landscape, ruining any sense of fun or inertia. Kasdan’s love for the genre is palpable but he has lost his objectivity and the film suffers due to over-length and confused plotting.

This sweeping saga takes a technologically advanced approach to the classic western genre. Unfortunately, the film is burdened with an overly complex storyline, involving numerous subplots that ramble off in various directions. A number of unremarkable characters get lost in the shuffle. The film is essentially about four drifters who arrive in a desert town and try to free the small community from the corrupt local law enforcement officials. Each of the cowboys has his own subplot within that larger framework, which results in confusion then tedium.

The cast of big names is adequate, but only Scott Glenn looks truly at home in the time period. The other actors are way too modern to be taken seriously, particularly Kevin Costner’s character. Jake (Costner) is prone to getting into trouble and performing odd physical feats while recounting stories. It’s an annoying portrayal and the character throws the tone off every time he appears on-screen. Brian Dennehy makes a fine corrupt sheriff, much like he did in First Blood.

Silverado is about as mediocre as new-age westerns get. It is laced with beautiful location photography, a fantastic score and the appropriate look for the period. It is also at least 30 minutes too long, and contains a handful of characters that are unnecessary to the story-arc. Kasdan has mounted an attractive production but he is failed by the overstuffed and un-original content of his script.

Brian Dennehy
Director: Lawrence Kasdan
Stars: Scott Glenn, Kevin Kline, Kevin Costner, Danny Glover

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