Only a Western could have a name like Appaloosa, and so this film is a Western that follows two roaming lawmen for hire, played by Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen. The film is full of characters that want to be colorful and interesting, but they also want to be brooding and serious, which works most of the time, and needed to work all of the time since the story is really only a way to examine the three main characters’ traits. The score by Jeff Beal uses a classic western feel with a James Newton Howard strangeness (that gets a big unintentional laugh when Renee Zelwegger appears), which I guess should suggest to us that Harris, also the director, is trying to turn the Western on its head.
The problem is the film begins creating a wonderful character in Harris’s Virgil Cole only to peak out at about the halfway point with a violent action that’s bold for the character that when the film neither delves into or cares to explain the psychological reasonings we stop caring what the film has to say about him. After that it’s no longer Cole’s film but becomes about the people that surround Cole.