An unnamed gunslinger, referred to as The Lady (Sharon Stone), enters the Old West town of Redemption circa 1881 where she enters a single elimination gunfighting contest held by Redemption’s ruthless leader, John Herod (Gene Hackman), a former outlaw. She meets Cort (Russell Crowe), a former Herod henchman turned reverend, whom Herod captures and forces to enter the contest; and Fee (Leonardo DiCaprio), also known as “The Kid,” a brash young gun shop owner who hopes to impress Herod, whom he believes to be his father, by winning the contest. Though now a preacher, Cort is an amazingly fast and talented gunfighter, and the only man that Herod truly respects and fears. Herod covers this by treating Cort cruelly, denying him water, beating him and keeping him chained to an old fountain. In the first round of duels, The Kid defeats a Swedish quick-draw champion, while Herod kills braggart Ace Hanlon (Lance Henriksen), who had taken credit for some of Herod’s own accomplishments. The Lady defeats an old enemy she left shackled to a wagon, while Cort defeats one of Herod’s men who thought he was getting an easy kill. Herod later learns that the townspeople have secretly hired a bounty hunter, Clay Cantrell (Keith David), to enter the contest and kill him. The next day, Herod declares that all remaining duels must be to the death, then kills Cantrell when the two face off against one another. Herod angrily informs the townspeople that since they had enough money to hire Cantrell, he will raise their taxes. Flashbacks reveal that The Lady’s true name is Ellen, and she had grown up in Redemption, where her father was the town’s Marshal. One day Herod and his men invaded the town, killed all the deputies and tied her father to the gallows. Herod gave Ellen a gun and offered to let her shoot the rope and free him. However, she missed and killed her father instead. Seeking revenge, she has come to Redemption with the intent of killing Herod. However, an uncomfortable dinner date with Herod leaves Ellen unsure about whether or not she can go through with it and she attempts to flee. She then reunites with the town’s local doctor, Wallace, who was also her father’s best friend. The old man convinces her to return to Redemption and free the town from Herod…

Sam Raimi´s “The Quick And The Dead” was declared as a box office bomb when it came out, but I do like this classic and simple western tale with a twist being that the gunslinger after revenge is a woman. And that gunslinger is a truly stunning Sharon Stone in great form and the same goes for Hackman being as evil as only he can be. I think Stone manages to both be the hardened gunslinger she pretends to be, but at the same time being a woman terrified of her mission and her own feelings after true revenge. Yes, there´s some scenes that might not work 100% in building up her character, but that doesn´t really interfere with the movie and neither does the fact that “The Quick And The Dead” is cliché ridden and stereotypical in many ways. I love that Raimi has managed to gather a nice ensemble with great actors such as Stone, Hackman, Crowe, Sinise, Henriksen, Hingle, DiCaprio, David etc. A lot of solid names. And a job well done by the casting team. Raimi directs the movie with the feeling and style of a classic western, but with a cartoony backdrop and his classic zoom in shots appears once in a while. And the bloody violence is partly cartoony as well, but that works due to the general vibe created by Raimi. The only death I felt was way over the top ridiculous was Herod´s death. Fun fact is that Sam Raimi’s original ending didn’t work, so he went to Sony Pictures to ask for a writer to fix it. The studio suggested Joss Whedon, who saw the movie and fixed the ending for Raimi in one afternoon. All of the actors on the set in the gunfight scenes were instructed in the art of the quick draw by a stunt coordinator. Due to his limited screen time, Gene Hackman had the most opportunity to prepare his quick draw and as a result was the fastest actor on the set. And Sharon Stone hand-picked Russell Crowe to be in this film. The studio was initially unsure about this choice because Crowe was a complete unknown to the American audience. “The Quick And The Dead” is a western treat on the prairie in my eyes and I can´t really understand why it became a box office bomb. (4 out of 5)

Quick