Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 32
  2. Negative: 1 out of 32

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Critic Reviews

  1. 67
    We've heard tell about the rebirth of the Western at least since Clint Eastwood's vicious, "Unforgiven" 16 years ago, but since the genre never truly died in the first place there's no need to flog that horse here.
  2. 88
    Goes down like a single-malt aged for 25 years.
  3. 75
    A warmly made, slightly offbeat movie about friendly devotion. It also happens to be a western, and every man in it is grizzled or wizened or both.
  4. This isn't a visionary western like "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" (2005), but in its own quiet way it delivers the goods.
  5. 75
    What makes the movie absorbing is the way it harmonizes all the character strands and traits and weaves them into something more engaging than a mere 1-2-3 plot. I felt like I did in "Lonesome Dove" -- that there was a chair for me on the porch.
  6. It's less a western than a loping buddy picture.
  7. As director, Harris takes this classical sense of the western too far, though, until it seems that the movie is carefully trying to keep the genre alive.
  8. A throwback to the age when Westerns were quaint.
  9. 80
    The romantic subplot dovetails wonderfully with Harris' tribute to the genre's golden age. The moral quest of taming the West always thrived if a lady could be won in tandem.
  10. The two men collaborate so well, in fact, that the real love match of Appaloosa is between the two of them and no one else.
  11. 75
    It turns out to be a satisfying, if occasionally wandering, adventure.
  12. Though the leads do fine work, their efforts often feel slightly futile. Despite a few flashes of the darker tone percolating under the surface, the movie remains too well-mannered to truly pull us in.
  13. 75
    Beautifully photographed by Dean Semler, Appaloosa is the best Western since "Open Range" and shows there's still life in this most unfashionable of genres.
  14. First and last, Appaloosa is the slow-but-sure story of the friendship between Virgil and Everett, one a man of action surprised by emotion, the other a man of emotion surprised by action.
  15. If you're an actual adult who likes old-school Westerns, this won't disappoint you.
  16. 75
    Westerns often take themselves seriously and, while Appaloosa is no "Blazing Saddles," there's a refreshing vein of understated humor running throughout the production.
  17. 88
    Appaloosa is gripping entertainment that keeps springing surprises.
  18. 50
    If Appaloosa is something to look at, it's also unnecessarily lethargic. Even an intentionally slow-paced picture needs to have its own internal source of energy, and as a filmmaker, Harris can't quite get that motor running.
  19. Most of the time, the movie is appropriately gritty and plenty engaging.
  20. An old-fashioned Western with all the classic elements -- buddy loyalty, stalwart heroes, despicable villains, plenty of gunfights and marvelous wind-scoured desert landscapes -- marked by some modern ideas about relationships.
  21. 67
    As with many other mediocre actor-directors, Harris' attention to the performances, including his own fine turn, has cost him in other areas.
  22. Appaloosa wobbles and wanders, promising to take a fresh look at those old myths, only to lapse back into weary convention.
  23. A fine dramatic comedy with fresh characters, witty dialogue and a keen interest in how relationships must have developed among frontier folks, tyrannical ranchers, no-nonsense lawmen and -- oh, yes -- the complicated women on that frontier.
  24. 60
    The movie's tolerant, good-humored view of its characters drains it of some dramatic intensity, but Mr. Harris seems more interested in piquant, offhand moments than in big, straining confrontations.
  25. 70
    In all, Appaloosa is good as far as it goes--everything in it feels true--but I wish that Harris had pushed his ideas further.
  26. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    It's good to spend time with a movie that takes its time. Granted, Harris doesn't advance the genre; instead he burrows into it, finds a home there, as one might retreat to musty library stacks, where old pleasures and treasures await.
  27. Played for Maverick-like comedy, the film might have coasted on Harris and Mortensen's dialogue. But played straight it's both dull and preposterous.
  28. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Harris is a major asset in a film that is entertaining but somewhat unfocused and occasionally badly cast.
  29. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Harris' first directorial outing since his impressive and entirely different "Pollock" biopic bears echoes of many genre predecessors, especially Howard Hawks' "Rio Bravo" -- but echoes they remain.
  30. 70
    Harris and his collaborators are playing it straight with a timeless male fantasy--horse, hat, six-shooter--a traditional approach that will please moviegoers like my dad and yours.
  31. Mannered, episodic and slow.
  32. 70
    Harris and Mortensen may not have the combined star power to push Appaloosa to the level of popularity of last year's "3:10," but the film is every bit as enjoyable, and, for traditionalists, more measured.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 83 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 37
  2. Negative: 18 out of 37
  1. BEEsnider
    Jul 18, 2009
    Great Cinematography, acting was superb, I have a feeling most people did not understand much of the story but hey, it's their loss.
  2. JohnC.
    Feb 12, 2009
    Its a good old fashion western. I loved it.
  3. Oct 7, 2013
    The biggest flaw of the film is that it doesn't go anywhere. You sit through a 2 hour film and expect something but sadly there is nothingThe biggest flaw of the film is that it doesn't go anywhere. You sit through a 2 hour film and expect something but sadly there is nothing here with Appaloosa. The acting is average, The plot is painfully generic and boring, and it fails to keep you interested or entertained at all. I would not recommend. Full Review »