The story originally seems to set itself up to be that of redemption for a young man who is fresh out of jail. While this story is around, there seems to be parallel stories that arise as subplot but soon race alongside the original tale like proverbial track horses (and horses also just so happen to be the nexus for said plots). Just as one seems to buck into the lead, another comes along to grab the focus.
There is the story of two crooked stable employees trying to cash in on a stolen stallion, a lost-love versus new-love story for our former jailbird, money troubles for a rich stable owner and all sorts of other conflicts that make all of our recognizable characters mope about and feel perpetually in need of a drink.
This many stories does not make the film confusing, but it does make it seem unfocused at times. Things come together by the climax, thankfully, but even with all of the gun slinging, fisticuffs, racing, foul language, and barn sex it never manages to spark a terrible amount of interest nor find a proper pace.
The score gets confusing at times and seems to enter a sort of free form jazz when trouble brews, and yet is completely absent during the parts of greatest tension or action. A mundane scene on the farm can all of a sudden have fire or somebody being pummeled with a shovel without notice and can easily be missed if you’re not paying perfect attention.
The actors are each given about two emotions to work with each (mostly forms of tension), but there’s so many of them that an emotional palette kind of gets filled anyhow. But overall, there nobody really gets to display their chops and the mood suffers for it.
The amount of deception going on can be tricky to follow, but that breeds more apathy than curiosity. What starts as seemingly over boiling with plot, turns out to be simpler than it intended, when thinking of how typical the story arc and ending is. It’s even easy to spot the villains. All the audience has to do is cheer for the guy who is talking the least (which is almost a Western tribute if you think of the likes of the Man with No Name and such).
Presented in Widescreen 2.35:1, giving it a nice and wide classic Western look, which is something the producers note in the special features (the only interesting thing in the Features by the way).
Not just the mise-en-scene has a dusty feel, the black levels are a touch faded. This does get hidden well enough by the aforementioned dustiness of the Ontario country it is set in, but the villains of this film tend to wear black, which is noticeably not as crisp and dark as it should be.
This film makes pretty good use of it’s Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. It is not an massively immersive action experience but the thunderous sound of horses races is quite substantial. The dialogue in the film is considerably quieter but clear. The twang, guitar heavy, country inspired musical scoring sounds nice on all speakers.
Behind the Scenes: Typical and fluffy. The actors give a synopsis of their own characters and the story then talk a pinch about how great the movie is. Great. Really needed for somebody already watching it. Yup. Mmmhmmm.
Deleted Scenes: Stuff that would have added unneeded length. Perfectly reasonable cuts that add some, but very little depth to the story or characters for those curious enough to investigate them.
The story reads like a Hallmark movie, but it is far too crass for that. This is an old fashioned tarnished hero story that runs the kind of course you might expect. Our hero is like the horse you bet on with good odds. He might be a sure thing, but you won’t walk away with a ton of winnings. This movie is not “all hat and no brim” but it’s not a champion either.