Texas Rangers

Movie studios sometimes have a hard time predicting when they have a potential hit movie on their hands, but the usually do know when they are in possession of a huge flaming turkey. The primary sign that a studio has little confidence in its own film is not previewing it for critics, so that when the movie opens, no reviews will be available. Another sign is that the studio lets the movie sit on the shelf for a long amount of time. Texas Rangers is a turkey, and fills the above requirements. It is just as bad as Dimension films thought it would be, possibly worse. The movie combines elements of the ensemble western with elements of fact and lots of young actors. It didn't work recently in American Outlaws, and it doesn't work here. What is so hard about making a western? Obviously something is. Another recent 'western,' The American Astronaut, is just weird. Texas Rangers is based on the book Taming of Neuces Strip: The Story of McNelly's Rangers by George Durham., adapted by Scott Busby (The Escape, The Rainbow Warrior) and Martin Copeland (The Rainbow Warrior, The Heavenly Kid).

Dylan McDermott (Three to Tango, 'Til There Was You) has the thankless role of Leander McNelly, leader of the famed Texas Rangers. The Rangers are going through tough times, and need new recruits. The movie is seen through the eyes of Lincoln Rogers Dunnison (James Van Der Beek, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Scary Movie), one of McNelly's recruits. Dunnison watched as John King Fisher (Alfred Molina, Chocolat, Magnolia) murdered his family in cold blood, and he wants revenge. Other recruits include George Durham (Ashton Kutcher, Reindeer Games, Dude, Where's My Car?) and African American Randolph Douglas Scipio (Usher Raymond, Gepetto, Light It Up). Aside from some uninteresting adventures, Dunnison and Durham vie for the affections of Caroline Dukes (Rachael Leigh Cook, Josie and the Pussycats, Blow Dry).

Nothing that goes on here is very interesting, due to the lack of charisma in most of the character performances. Everybody except Kutcher is subdued, for no apparent reason. McDermott and Van Der Beek in particular seem bored with the entire proceedings. They are the main characters, so their lack of energy translates across the board. Director Stephen Miner (Lake Placid, Halloween H2O) wants the viewer to understand Dunnison's predicament. He wants justice, and he wants revenge. Joining the Rangers is an outlet for both, and he must choose the correct one. Too bad Van Der Beek merely looks befuddled. McDermott's McNelly is inconsistent; either a gentle father-like figure or a hardened drill sergeant. Nobody cares what happens to anybody in the movie. The battle scenes also fail to muster any discernible excitement. Where is Chuck Norris when he's needed? Oh wait, he wouldn't help either.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 30 minutes, Rated PG-13 for western violence.

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