While lots of directors have riffed on John Ford ’s THE SEARCHERS, they usually camouflage their borrowings in non-Western settings. Not Ron Howard, who shamelessly overstuffs his "homage" with cute/tough kids, Native American shamanism, frontier medicine, and a Prodigal Dad, but can’t direct an action scene so you can tell who’s aiming at whom. Cate Blanchett may have been born with one of the world’s most camera-ready faces, but her actions here never add up to a believable person. Tommy Lee Jones ’ deserter Dad holds some interest, but the guy* who runs the farm & makes occasional love to lonely Cate blows him off the screen with his fresh presence. At the very least, let's hope this is one of the last times we have to see the 'good' Indian die for his white brother.
*Nice spotting MAKSQUIBS, that ‘guy’ was Aaron Eckhart whose career ‘broke’ shortly after this Write-Up hit the internet. Okay, okay, cut the back patting. (Sorry.)