GUNFIGHT AT RIO BRAVO Review: Alexander Nevsky Shepherds Indie Western Thrills With Palatable Genre Tropes
Gunfight at Rio Bravo is now available in the U.S. from Shout! Studios
Actor Alexander Nevsky’s latest role now finds him debuting a persona based on a real-life war figure nary heard of in screen history. For this, we now turn to Gunfight At Rio Bravo, directed by Joe Cornet – who himself is no stranger to Westerns in his current five-title resumè, from a script by Craig Hamann which rejoins Nevsky with past film cohorts Matthias Hues and Olivier Grunner.
Central to the story is our protagonist, Ivan Turchin (Nevsky), who arrives in town to set up shop just after a quick dust-up with some would-be robbers. He is sought by Marshall Carter (Grunner) and his partner looking for Sheriff Kelly’s (Cornet) quarters where they can hopefully make a temp pit stop to hold Hellhound gang leader and captive fugitive Ethan Crawley (Hues) whilst en route to get him hanged for his crimes.
Little do Turchin and Carter know that a sudden ambush would soon put the town on edge, as word gets around that the Hellhounds, led by Crawley’s second-in-command, Grady (John Marrs) are headed to free their leader. From that point on, it’s up to Ivan to galvanize the small handful of willing gunslingers and townspeople who are up to the task of staving off the Hellhounds, in a move that also finds him confronted once again with a military past and reputation that haunts him to this day.
Most low-budget Westerns I’ve seen are usually hit-or-miss, and Gunfight At Rio Bravo is my first exposure to Cornet’s directorial work. Production aspects aside, the film tells a straightforward story with a familiar type of protagonist through a not-so-familiar historical figure. Nevsky, bearing little emotion for the film’s duration, plays the part well enough to consistently leave the kind of impression he usually does in his movies as the front-and-center hero of the story, and does so with the stronger supporting performances of some of his co-stars, including Hues in typically charismatic villain fashion.
Marrs is brilliant in the role of the reliable villain that is Grady, a leader of the Hellhounds in service of Crawley who has no compunction for making his victims beg for their lives before challenging them to a knife fight, as per his style. Additionally, the action scenes through-and-through, coordinated by Art Camacho, lend a fun spectacle for viewers to get the most out of, with Nevsky’s Turchin tearing through the town with his own handy arsenal and resolve to boot.
As the first of what now remains to be seen ahead of its sequel, Gunfight At Rio Bravo has its perks. Quality isn’t without its share of noticeable frills for more keen-eyed and even persnickety moviegoers, and the film stands at a brisk 120 minutes – about 69 or 70 of which comprise actual movie footage with the rest woven into the opening and closing captions and credits. Otherwise, if humble, independently-produced Western thrillers and brooding Russian action heroes are more your speed, so is Gunfight At Rio Bravo.
Native New Yorker. Lover of all things pizza, chocolate, pets, and good friends. Karaoke hero. Left of center. Survivor. Fond supporter of cult, obscure and independent cinema - especially fond of Asian movies and global action cinema. Author of the bi-weekly Hit List. Founder and editor of Film Combat Syndicate. Still, very much, only human.