22 June 2006 | TheMovieMark
Never doubt a Western that Duvall is attached to
Watching AMC's Western miniseries Broken Trail is similar to reading a compelling novel - the beauty's in the details. Rather than rushing story and character development in order to get to the next action scene (so as to appease those with Attention Span Deficit Syndrome), Broken Trail understands that the mark of a really good Western lies with interesting, colorful characters and a storytelling style that convinces you to keep watching.
I've always been a fan of Westerns and always will be; that's why it's so disappointing that today's movie/TV landscape doesn't seem to have the time, money, or patience to do the genre right. Hopefully, Broken Trail is just the beginning of a reversal to this trend.
If you're a fan of Western epics in the vein of Lonesome Dove then I strongly suggest you check out Broken Trail. The story is a little unconventional as far as Westerns go, but you know what? It works. And it works well.
I was initially curious how captivated I would be by watching two men accompany five Chinese girls across the Western wilderness, but rather than focusing on the concept, this is all about the journey and the adventures and characters that are encountered along the way. Church proves himself quite a versatile actor (how far has he come since Wings?), and Duvall puts in the type of effortless performance that I could watch him deliver every week. He's not unlike Augustus McCrae, but what does it matter? He plays the character flawlessly. Here's a tip - never doubt a Western that Duvall is attached to.
Moving at a smooth, campfire pace, Broken Trail presents characters you'll care about, conflicts you'll want to see resolved, cinematography that will convince you to take a trip out West, and enough Western justice to keep the die-hard fans of action content. Just keep in mind that the shootouts aren't thrown in for the mere sake of satisfying those who demand violence in their Westerns. All the gunplay comes as a necessity to the story and is allowed to happen exactly when it needs to. It's never forced for the sake of hurrying things along.
This is a miniseries that is reason enough alone to justify your cable or satellite bill, and we can only hope that enough viewers tune in to influence more quality programming like this in the future.