Gunless (2010)


Our rating: 4 out of 5

Reviewer: Charity Bishop


Westerns are not usually my thing, but I'm happy I came across this film. It is not big budget or in any way impressive, but it is a lot of fun.


The Montana Kid (Paul Gross) has a bit of a problem: he smells like a pigsty, he has a bullet in his backside, and he's narrowly escaped a hanging... and is dragging the tree branch behind him. While he is unconscious, his horse wanders across the Canadian border and winds up in a small town where no one seems to be armed. What he wants most is to get out of there, but he can't... because the local blacksmith has insulted him by calling him "common." The Montana Kid just can't stand for that kind of an insult, so he challenges the man to a gunfight. Problem is, no one has a revolver... except for Jane Taylor (Sienna Guillory), and she will only give him the rusted piece of metal if he helps her get her windmill up and working.


Her revolver has seen better days. In fact, when he picks it up, the handle falls off. But you cannot just ride out of town when you have challenged someone to a duel, so he sets about fixing it and waiting for parts. Never mind there is a posse on his tail. Never mind that the townspeople are all very curious about him. Never mind that he is running up a tab at the local store/tea house. A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do, even if it means being himself instead of the Montana Kid.


I'll put it right out there: at times, this movie is stupid, but since it is not trying to be anything but stupid, it works. It is a fun-loving western that does not take its characters, setting, or dialogue too seriously. Instead, it offers us humorous clichés and tongue in cheek characterization: the trigger-happy gunslinger, the local man obsessed with a stump he can't pull out, the bickering store owners, the Chinese family that can't speak a word of English, and the Canadian Mounted Officer who can't quote the rules just right. It isn't hilarious, but it is amusing and the cast is not half bad. There are moments the dialogue sticks but for the most part, I was having too much fun to care. It is mostly contained in a western town, but there is an impressive gunfight (that starts by accident) and some beautiful costumes going for it. The score is also cheeky in all the right ways.


Best of all, there's not much in this little film to offend. A scattering of mild profanities pop up here and there, usually for comedic effect. For example, in the midst of a tense showdown in the street, the gun sticks. The Montana Kid swears and then says, "It was working fine last night!" Bullets are exchanged but other than the doctor having to pull two out of different people's backsides, no one is hurt. He has to slice open trousers to do it, which leaves both men wandering around with rags holding their pant leg together for the remainder of the film. It's implied that the Chinese see more of the Kid than they wanted to when he storms out of a bathing tub and points a gun at someone, but the camera doesn't see it. Nor does it see below the belt while the bullet is being extracted. In fact, the only thing I was disappointed in is that after their first (drunken) kiss, we see Jane and the Kid waking up together in bed. That's a shame. But at least the movie showed restraint.


Westerns (or indeed, any kind of film) that are appropriate for younger audiences are hard to find, but this is one of them. It is not perfect, but it is also not a kid's movie. It never feels childish or convoluted, and there are some meaningful scenes in it, as the Kid comes to realize that he doesn't have to fight. He can walk away if he wants to, even if it means dealing with the remorse of his past actions. It is not an award-winning production, but it does what it sets out to do: entertain.