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Last Stand at Saber River

Warner Bros. // Unrated // May 17, 2005
List Price: $14.97 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Scott Weinberg | posted May 28, 2005 | E-mail the Author
The Movie

Paul Cable is back from the Civil War, and boy was he on the losing side. Finding that his Arizona homestead has been invaded by a ruthless gang of former Union boys, Cable is justifiably annoyed. But all the guy wants to do is live a nice, quiet life with his wife and their two kids ... but since this is a made-for-cable Western flick based on a novel by Elmore Leonard -- you already know that "nice & quiet" is just not in the cards.

Entirely conventional and almost painfully predictable, Last Stand at Saber River is just watchable enough to pass muster as a bored weeknight rental, but even then by only the most ardent and enthusiastic Western flick fans under the sun. Anyone else (OK, other than those who belong to the Tom Selleck fan club) will most likely be reaching for the remote before the thirty-minute mark.

The immediately-post-Civil War setting does allow for some engaging themes and conversations amongst the rather broadly drawn characters, and the landscapes are shot fairly well by director Dick Lowry. So while there's nothing overtly wrong with Saber River, it's also a movie that just sort of sits there and helps you tick off your mental checklist of things that need to be in a Western movie. Amazingly evil villains, cute moppets in distress (and extra points earned by one of those moppets being Haley Joel Osment), a noble gunman who always does the right thing, and a whole lot of horses who, despite being involved in several gunfights, never once get shot, scratched, or scared.

Selleck does a fine job with a role he could probably do in his sleep by now, and he's afforded some stalwart support by Suzy Amis and Carradines Keith & David -- but ultimately Last Stand at Saber River feels like a somewhat amusing joke that you've heard eleven times before; you'll sit and listen politely and perhaps even enjoy the presentation, but there's nothing here you haven't seen before and considerably better.

The DVD

Video: It's a rather washed-out and frequently flaky Full Frame format, which does replicate the film's TV lineage, but doesn't really look all that hot.

Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, in your choice of English, French, or Spanish. English captions are offered as well.

Extras: A short promo spot for two other TNT Network Western flicks, both of which are a lot more fun than this one is: Purgatory (starring Sam Shepard, Eric Roberts & Randy Quaid) and The Desperate Trail (starring Craig Sheffer, Linda Fiorentino & Sam Elliott).

Final Thoughts

Just like something bland is not necessarily something unpleasant, Last Stand at Saber River does what it can to give you a little Western fix -- without really trying all that hard. Tom Selleck manages to carry the flick on his back for the most part, resulting in a somewhat limp and lethargic little tale of western woe. It's not an awful TV flick in any particular way, but there are so many better Westerns you could be watching instead.

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