Director: James Miller
Starring: Pat McIntire, Judith Rhodes, Donald Jespersen
It's never a good sign when you laugh out loud through the first five minutes of what I can only assume is supposed to be a serious film. I mean, it's a bloody Western about a gunman, his dead family, and redemption. It's not meant to be hilarious, right? I spent most of the movie trying to decide whether or not it was written tongue in cheek, if Miller was attempting to be humorous in a spoofy sort of way. But I don't think so. I think this was actually supposed to be a good movie, which is only surprising after you watch it.
It's a wild time somewhere in the West, a time of hard men & easy money. An unnamed man, who we know only as the Uncle, is living by the gun, taking out contracts on the lives of others. It's only slowly revealed that he has a dark past, that he's on the run from his memories as much as from the bounty hunters who want his head. And as he kills he creates more enemies, but that doesn't bother him, he just kills them too, indiscriminately murdering anyone who gets in his way. But when he gets shot himself, he's got to rely on the kindness of others to survive, a weakness he's not had to endure in a long time.
The past has a way of catching up with you though, and this hardened killer can't escape his. The daughter of the brother he once worked alongside is out for vengeance, hunting the uncle who she holds responsible for the death of her father. But she's no gunman and finds herself in trouble more often than not. Her uncle, meanwhile, is in trouble of a different kind. He's found friends who feel more like family and is starting to feel responsibilities that make him question his wild life. Can both the uncle and the niece face down there demons, learn to stop hating the world, and make peaceful lives for themselves?
From the opening sequence I knew I was in trouble. It got me laughing right away until I realized that it wasn't supposed to be funny. But it sure seemed like a comedy in that first scene. Two "actors" who were spitting out lines like they were in a high school drama class, a lead actress who has one of the more homely faces I've seen on screen, strange pop-up shootings, and a theme song that sounded like Neil Diamond singing something a twelve-year-old wrote. I thought for sure it was a comedy, or at the very least a farce, but it quickly became apparent that everyone involved was doing the best they could. Or, in other words, the worst job imaginable.
After that horrible beginning things just got worse; depressingly worse. Ugly men rode around on horses, drank whiskey, had whores, all the while seeming less like actors and more like drunk people at a very trashy wedding. Guns were fired every six seconds, pink blood was splattered seemingly at random, and dirty cowboys died in pretty much every scene. The movie was built on the idea that audiences would enjoy watching ninety minutes of dust, pistols, and mustaches. It was basically a hideous attempt at a Western, like an awful & violent episode of Hey Dude, but void of any sort of talent or emotion.
Seriously void, as in no bright spots whatsoever. I have no idea why any of these actors were cast in their roles. Any number of random people I could approach on the street would have been more believable as human beings than the cast of this film. It was the worst acting I've ever seen, and I've seen Sharknado. The side characters seemed hand-picked to be talentless, unattractive, and smelly, even through the camera. The main actors, Uncle & Niece, led the pack with their pathetic performances. At least he seemed a little sad & tired, which fit, while she seemed to be delivering every line as if it said in the script, "pretend that you just learned how to read & speak."
Video: With an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 Widescreen 16x9, the video may have been the best part of the film. The color was nice, the balance was good, and the images were crisp. The picture quality was high for such a horrendous and talentless movie.
Audio: The disc was done in Dolby Digital with an option to chose between English or Spanish subtitles. The sound quality of the film was also much better than the film itself. It was mixed nicely, although the music throughout was pretty awful.
Extras: There are a few extras on the DVD. Behind the Scenes; an 18-minute-long segment on the making of the film. Living by the Gun trailer; self-explanatory. And Also From Lionsgate; four trailers including Six Shooters, Billy the Kid, Any Last Words, and The Righteous and the Wicked.
Skip It. Living by the Gun is the worst thing I've seen in a while. It started out funny and I had some hope that it would at least be enjoyable, but those dreams quickly evaporated and I was left with a film that was just plain bad. The acting was remarkably terrible, the music was crappy, and the movie as a whole is not even worth a glance. The video and audio qualities are the best part of the DVD, and even the extras are OK. But don't waste your time on this worse-than-amateur production. Go outside and kick up some dirt instead; it'll save you time and you'll entertain yourself just as much.