Director Ron Howard's uncompromisedly grim western about the abduction of a woman's daughter in old New Mexico is clearly inspired by John Ford's The Searchers, though it's far more violent and nowhere near as good, despite the superior acting of Cate Blanchett as the mother of the missing girl, and Tommy Lee Jones as her estranged father. The film itself is too depressing, too humorless, and too long—not to mention a strange detour into mysticism.
It isn't all downbeat, however. Those who have found Howard's past films too sugary will find this a refreshing departure (as was the equally sober Ransom, recently released as a special-edition DVD). And while the video transfer is just okay (whatever happened to the consistently stunning-looking DVDs that Columbia TriStar used to put out before they moved their mastering out of house?), the sound is superb. With active surrounds, powerful bass, and clean, open, natural-sounding dialog, it's clearly the star of this show. There is a full disc of extra features with deleted scenes, alternate endings, and more, all of which might make for a more interesting rental, but the film itself is not likely to encourage repeat viewing.—TJN