3 January 2002 | dinky-4
John Ethan Wayne has big boots to fill.
This movie probably represents the peak of John Ethan Wayne's film career and it gives him a chance to play the tall man of few words but firm convictions that his father often played in earlier westerns. Unfortunately, though a likeable and attractive fellow, John Ethan Wayne simply doesn't have the screen presence of his legendary ancestor. He seems a bit bland and vacant. There's little sense of substance or toughness beneath his rarely-changing expression. The scene where he's thrown into a prison cell and beats up the hulking con who threatens him is in no way convincing.
Still, this modern-day western is an entertaining diversion with bursts of action, (of the car chase variety), and with a solid supporting cast headed by Henry Silva, Bo Svenson, and Ernest Borgnine. Acting honors probably go to Borgnine but his character's transformation from villain to father-figure seems merely like a script contrivance. One also wishes more could have been done with the character of his daughter.
Just as John Wayne received a whipping in "The Conqueror," so too does John Ethan Wayne feel the sting of leather in this movie. Borgnine's men hang him from his wrists inside a barn and give his bare back half a dozen or so lashes. (Judging from the pleased look on their faces, these men may be enjoying the whipping just a bit more than they should be.) As is usually the case in the movies, our hero seems to suffer absolutely no ill effects from this beating because, on the very next day, he's as good as new.