Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

The Montana Kid (Paul Gross) is the roughest, meanest, most ornery cutthroat gunslinger in all the west. Unfortunately… or fortunately as it may turn out… this cutthroat gunslinger’s trusty steed has guided him to Canada. It’s complicated considering the Montana Kid is riding this trusty steed with a rope tied around his neck still attached to a tree branch, his hands tied behind his back and a bullet in butt, but in Canada is where he is. The title of this little western comedy is ‘Gunless’ but The Montana Kid has his gun, it’s just that nobody else in this quaint Canadian enclave he’s been dropped off at has one. A hand gun that is, because rifles are all over place in this town but apparently pistols are only used for killing people. I did not know this.

The bullet in The Kid’s behind has had some ramifications, leaving the man out of sorts for a minute but when he comes around he’s none too happy about this town or the people in it. Primarily The Kid is upset at the Jack the giant blacksmith (Tyler Mane) for fixing his horse’s damage hoof without his permission and he’s really none too happy about the way that Jack has physically manhandled him to get the belligerent gunfighter out of his face. Now The Kid has to call him out, but Jack doesn’t have a sidearm. Nobody has a sidearm in this silly town.

Except, that is, for Jane the pretty divorcee (Sienna Guillory). We’re not going to get into why the pretty lady Jane has a gun but she does and if The Kid wants this gun so that he can give it to Jack so that he can shoot Jack dead, then the kid is going to have to hang out in this town for a while, help Jane get her windmill up and running and help around the farm.

The Kid does his best to resist the charms of these people but not surprisingly they start to get the better of him. The town dinners, the church lessons, the cute Chinese kid and of course Jane the pretty lady starts to slowly etch away at Sean’s harsh exterior. Yes, he even has a name. But old habits die hard, especially when you’ve killed as many people as Sean has and he really wants to have this showdown with Jack, a showdown Jack can’t possibly win. Complicating matters is that The Kid’s arch enemy Cutler the Bounty Hunter (Callum Keith Reinne) is hot on his trail and he’s taking The Kid back to the colonies… dead or alive.

But by this time Sean has become one of their own and this little town isn’t about to let some bounty hunter come into their country from Idaho or wherever and take him away. No matter how many people he’s killed back in the states. He’s really sorry about that anyway. And he still wants to shoot Jack dead. What’s up with that?

I don’t want to mislead you and tell that writer / director William Phillips ‘Gunless’ is the best movie ever made because it’s not. It’s oft times silly, irreverent, some of sentimentality in the movie is coerced if not outright forced, it’s filled with more caricatures than actual characters and it’s predictable. Painfully so. But all of that being said, ‘Gunless’ has this easy going charm about it that is almost irresistible. If you go to the movie for divine enlightenment, then this probably isn’t the one to watch but if your desire is to be simply entertained, at least for me, ‘Gunless’ got the job done.

The truth of the matter is that this little western put me in a good frame of mind almost from its opening stanza. I have a complaint about some of these modern westerns. You can have all the dirty cowboys and dusty landscapes and six-shooters and galloping horses in this western your making to fill your hearts desire, but its not a western unless you have some movie type western music. You know… western movie music. You’ll know it when you hear it. This movie opens with that and this made me happy.

And while I might’ve made mention of the large number of caricatures in this movie, Paul Gross’s The Montana Kid was not one of these caricatures. Even though everybody and their mother knows where this character has to be by the time the final credits roll, Paul Gross and his Montana Kid kept me off balance for pretty much the entire movie in getting to that point. He was the typical hardened gunslinger who had seen and done too much but they gave The Kid a very interesting back story, one which Gross used to great effect to elevate The Kid from the standard rigmarole and make the character three dimensional. Plus the movie was funny. Consistently so. All of these elements, from Paul Gross’ fine performance to Sienna Guillory’s winsome unassuming beauty to the light but steady comedy made for a surprisingly entertaining, feel good type movie. I was going to call it a family type movie but one had better cut it off before the ending credits so the family won’t have to hear Paul Gross… the man, not the character… and his potty mouth during the admittedly amusing outtakes. A western straight from Canada. A good and funny western straight from Canada. There you go.

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