A friend at work recently watched a film and since doing so has been repeating the phrase “I have two guns, one for each of you” over, and over again in a terrible American accent. The film in question is Tombstone, a 1993 Western starring Kurt Russell and office favourite Val ‘the chameleon’ Kilmer. It was lent to me recently by my quoting friend and I watched it this evening. I’ll be honest early on. I’ve never had much time for Westerns and rarely seek them out but I do enjoy a really good one. I also don’t particularly enjoy Val Kilmer on screen (though don’t tell my colleagues). With these facts in mind I wasn’t expecting to get much from Tombstone but I really enjoyed it, thanks largely to a fun, if slightly formulaic script and a fantastic, over the top performance from Val Kilmer.
Tombstone feels very much like a classic Western and looks older than Unforgiven, the Oscar winning movie which is younger by eighteen months. The premature aging doesn’t work against the film but merely gives it a gravitas that I’d associate with a classic Western of the late forties to mid sixties period. Even the plot feels well trodden. Three brothers, one of whom is a former lawman (Kurt Russell) relocate to Tombstone, Arizona with their families in the hope of earning their fortune. It soon becomes clear that the local law is defenceless against a large gang of outlaws who call themselves The Cowboys. Slowly the brothers and their friend Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer) begin to rid Tombstone of the gang but at a high cost of human life.