A Town Without Pity
A Texas Ranger comes to town.
He’s there to take a villain down.
Pretending to be someone else,
“just passing through” is what he tells.
Liam Hemsworth plays hero here.
He’s not the guy we have to fear.
It’s Woody Harrelson who’s bad –
an evil preacher and a cad.
He owns the town; that’s clearly true.
He wants to own the new guy too.
So he anoints Hemsworth sheriff,
which leads to a big bloody tiff.
These two fine actors try their best
to make this Western pass the test.
Sadly, The Duel clomps on and on.
And even horses plod along.
That last sentence in my film poem may seem like nitpicking. However, I always look forward to at least a couple of scenes showing horses galloping across the screen to the sound of a stirring musical background in a Western movie. Where are the galloping horses and stirring musical background in The Duel? Nowhere. Just saying.
So, dear reader, please remember that The Duel is not the usual type of Western. It’s more psychological. Two men play cat and mouse throughout. Abraham (Harrelson), a flamboyant preacher, has a secret relating to the many unexplained deaths taking place in his area close to the Rio Grande during the middle 1800s. David (Hemsworth), the undercover Texas Ranger, needs to discover that secret. Complicating matters for David is his wife Marisol (Alice Braga, TV’s Queen of the South), who insists on going with him on this dangerous mission. She soon becomes a target of Abraham’s seductive behavior.
Harrelson (Zombieland) appears to be having a great time with his villainous role in The Duel. He’s one of the few actors today who can get away with an over-the-top performance. But, hey, Abraham is bigger than life – and that’s how Harrelson portrays him. In fact, Harrelson ends up being the only one holding our complete interest during this very slow-moving motion picture. Still, Hemsworth (Cut Bank) manages to convince us about David’s dedication to his mission.
The last part of the film deals with extreme brutality, and the final battle between Abraham and David comes across as quite intense. Although not one of my favorite Westerns, The Duel might please fans of Woody Harrelson and Liam Hemsworth.
(Released by Lionsgate Premiere and rated “R” for strong violence and language.)
For more information about The Duel, please go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.