Lawrence Kasdan sought to revive the western, and thank God his vision of it failed. We owe it to better filmmakers who rejected sweeping camera shots, Aaron Coplandesque scores, and stories where you have heroes, villains, and a town that appears both sterile and old-timey. Like a Disney ride.
The film has a few inspired moments. Scott Glen’s opening shootout rising above White Rock, New Mexico is memorable and the final Kevin Kline/Brian Dennehy gunfight in the middle of the windy town rises above the hackneyed. Kevin Costner also showed real personality as Glen’s wild younger brother.
Other than that, it’s pretty awful, made even more silly by the gritty realism that followed in Unforgiven and HBO’s Deadwood. Nobody misses when they shoot, even with a pistol from hundreds of yards away. The town of Silverado also has the best and quickest dry cleaners around, because everyone looks so damn fine in their cowboy get-ups.
“Ladies and gents, The Village People!”
The language and attitudes are as new as the fashion. Danny Glover is enlisted as the proud, honorable messenger of racial tolerance; Roseanna Arquette is the feminist landowner; and Kline is a gunslinger with a sweet disposition towards animals and women (Kline’s casting is peculiar; he seems too nice to be the town barber much less a desperado). It’s all very clean, and for each of our enlightened characters, there are ten chaw-spitting, sneering henchmen to assure us of their goodness (including Jeff “Evil Eyes” Fahey).
Bad picture, getting worse every day.