GUNLESS (William Phillips). 89 minutes. Opens Friday (April 30). For venues, trailers and times, see Movies. Rating: N
Whoever decided to release Gunless on the day most Canadians file their income taxes has a cruel sense of humour.[rssbreak]
I can't imagine a bigger middle-finger to the country than this smug, hollow waste of public money: $4 million of the picture's $10 million budget came from Telefilm. Can we claim it on our 2010 returns?
Paul Gross plays the Montana Kid, an American outlaw who's unwittingly ridden across the border into British Columbia after fleeing a lynching party. Wounded and confused, he arrives at a tiny frontier town. The locals patch him up because, well, they're good people - Canadians, eh? - and right impressed to see a gunslinger in their midst, even if he's always trying to provoke a showdown.
All of Gunless consists of variations on this scene: Gross enters a room and the townspeople stare at him until some star-struck yokel makes an awkward comment. Gross snarls and leaves the room while fetching homesteader Sienna Guillory (obviously the love interest) looks on disapprovingly.
I'm disappointed in writer/director William Phillips. His earlier films, Treed Murray and Foolproof, were competent productions that played out their plots with some style and energy. Gunless just sits there, projecting preening self-regard and not even trying to sell its jokes.
I suspect script tampering, because Phillips is a smarter filmmaker than this movie would suggest. Your tax dollars at work, folks.