The opening scene of “The Duel” is all you need to see in order to determine if you’re going to want to continue watching or stop after the film’s first two minutes. If only I had followed my instincts, I wouldn’t have wasted two hours of my time on this tedious, boring and dreadfully dull period western.
The film opens with a clichéd aerial shot of a bloody knife fight accompanied by a classical choral soundtrack (groan). After a man falls to the ground from stab wounds, a small child comes running and crouches down next to the corpse — and it’s his daddy (double groan). With that, the child tearfully turns and looks at the camera (triple groan) before the title credits flash. All of these are filmmaking elements that I absolutely detest, and the movie never recovered for me.
Just how boring is this movie? So boring that it feels more like a six hour miniseries than a feature film. It’s muddled with far too many tiring plot points (and plot holes) to follow. The lack of focus here is unrivaled.
The yawn-inducing story, set in the late 1800s, focuses on David (Liam Hemsworth, not the good one) and his wife Marisol (Alice Braga). David is a Texas Ranger who is sent to the small town of Helena to investigate a series of mysterious murders, including many Mexicans along the Rio Grande border. Bad, bad guy Abraham (Woody Harrelson) rules the law in the town and appoints David as Helena’s sheriff in order to keep his enemy close by. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happens next.
There’s a lot of pointless violence that never packs a punch or makes any sort of emotional impact. The indifferent performances are underscored by the uncreative period costuming (yeah, I get it, Abraham is a bad guy who wears white; mind not blown here). Scene after scene after scene of blandness quickly makes this film dreadfully tedious. One of the only things worse than an unfunny comedy is an excruciatingly dull western.
I’m giving this film one star because of an unintentionally hilarious scene near the end where Harrelson hacks off his own leg with a dull blade, cracks the bone off, and yanks it out from under a rock. Yeah, that part was pretty awesome.
Matt was unavailable for review.