The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

"OK"

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford Review


SPOILER ALERT! Brad Pitt dies.

Shocking? Well. Anyone who reads Andrew Dominik's revealing sentence fragment of a title in its entirety already understands what's going to happen in this movie.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford -- hereafter, Jesse James -- aims to recreate the legendary outlaw's final weeks so that we might recognize the motivating factors that led to his demise.

Because suspense has been subtracted from the equation, we must find pleasure in the ride. You will be saddle sore. Stodgy and deathly slow, Jesse James takes the longest route possible to an anticipated resolution. Roger Deakins, Dominik's brilliant director of photography, musters an array of unforgettable shots as the Jesse James crew trudges through America's plains (Alberta, Canada, in actuality). But the unforgivably drawn-out march becomes a chore that is redeemed only by Casey Affleck's career-best performance.

Dominik's adaptation of Ron Hansen's novel begins near the end of Jesse's criminal career. Elder brother Frank (Sam Shepard) has agreed to one more train heist. The James gang -- in need of local muscle -- recruits an inadequate group which includes star-struck brother Charley (Sam Rockwell) and Robert Ford (Affleck). Following the job, Robert worms his way into Jesse's confidence, lighting a lengthy fuse on a powder keg of idol worship that will consume the lives of many men along the way.

Pitt, one of many credited producers, selected the least interesting role, though it is one that plays to the actor's strengths. Like Pitt, Jesse James was a celebrity. He bought into his fame, and fostered the worship culture that came with his legendary status. But beyond being an idol, there isn't much to Jesse for Pitt to flush out, and Jesse James rightfully becomes the Robert Ford story. Affleck, for his part, is perfectly pathetic in all the right ways. He has no distinguishing characteristics of his own, and absorbs most of James' mannerisms. His Ford has kid-brother syndrome -- though Dominik overdoes it when dumbing down poor Charley Ford and his crew. Rockwell is reduced to potted-plant status, but Affleck is mesmerizing, a wounded, dangerous, and proud individual wanting to measure up to a standard that exists in his own mind.

It's easy to single out, however, what Dominik could (and should) have sliced out. Jesse James wastes too much time wandering through the cursory interludes of supporting characters. Jessie's cousin Wood Hite (Jeremy Renner) and the lothario Dick Liddil (Paul Schneider) receive lengthy vignettes that pull focus off the Ford-James relationship. We tolerate them at first, wondering how they will contribute to the larger story. They never do. What they establish is the film's underlying message pertaining to the absence of honor among thieves, though that concept is made perfectly clear in the film's opening conversations and doesn't need to be repeated ad nauseam.

Kevin Costner's bloated Wyatt Earp frequently comes to mind during Jesse James. Like Pitt with Jesse, Costner was enamored with the enormous legacy of his main character, but didn't have anything insightful to add about him. We are told a lot about Jesse James during the elongated run time -- too much of it through Hugh Ross's myth-enhancing narration -- but learn very little about the man at all.

I dare you. Call me Ben Jr. one more time.



The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Facts and Figures

Run time: 160 mins

In Theaters: Friday 30th November 2007

Box Office USA: $3.8M

Box Office Worldwide: $14.7M

Budget: $30M

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

Production compaines: Plan B Entertainment, Warner Bros. Pictures, Virtual Studios, Scott Free Productions, Jesse Films Inc., Alberta Film Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Fresh: 128 Rotten: 41

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Benjamin Waisbren, , ,

Starring: as Jesse James, as Robert Ford, as Frank James, as Zeralda James, as Dick Liddil, as Wood Hite, as Dorothy Evans, as Charley Ford, as Ed Miller, as Mary James, Dustin Bollinger as Tim James, Joel McNichol as Express Messenger, James Defelice as Baggagemaster, J.C. Roberts as Engineer, as Martha Bolton, Kailin See as Sarah Hite, as Henry Craig, as Sheriff James Timberlak, as Thomas T. Crittenden, as Guitar player

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

With its fifth feature-length adventure, this franchise continues its preposterous journey at full tilt. As...

Keanu Movie Review

Keanu Movie Review

An entertaining hybrid of satirical comedy and action thriller, this madcap adventure swerves wildly between...

Ghostbusters Movie Review

Ghostbusters Movie Review

It's been more than 30 years since the Ghostbusters first hit the big screen with...

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

While the original 2013 magical caper was a big hit, it's style-over-substance approach didn't exactly...

Advertisement
The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

It's been nearly 30 years since the last live-action Tarzan movie, and yet it still...

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

A New York comedy with vivid characters and a contrived plot, this feels rather a...

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Nearly 25 years after the sitcom debuted, Edina and Patsy arrive on the big screen...

Central Intelligence Movie Review

Central Intelligence Movie Review

After teaming up with Will Ferrell for Get Hard and Ice Cube for two Ride...

The Colony [Colonia] Movie Review

The Colony [Colonia] Movie Review

Based on a true story, this Chilean drama has a chilling edge to it that's...

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Two decades is a long time to wait for a sequel, especially one starring much...

Elvis & Nixon Movie Review

Elvis & Nixon Movie Review

This movie is based on a real meeting between Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon in...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.