STARRING: Paul Gross, Sienna Guillory, Tyler Mane, and Callum Keith Rennie
DIRECTOR: William Phillips
EMC Lifestyle – Gunless is a great film. It may only be funny in Canada, but it’s still a great film.
The Montana Kid (Paul Gross) rides into town with his hands tied, and a noose around his neck. He’s half dead, caked in filth, and covered in a stench that burns the eyes. He’s also angry, arrogant and armed. In other words he’s an American from the old west.
Somehow his horse has found its way to the Canadian town of Barclay’s Brush. Montana isn’t in town five minutes before he gets into an argument with Jack (Tyler Mane) the town blacksmith. Montana challenges Jack to a duel, but Jack doesn’t own a pistol. In fact no one in town owns a pistol except for Jane (Sienna Guillory).
Jane makes Montana a deal. He can have her broken gun for his duel as long as he helps her put up her windmill. As the affront to his honour must be satisfied Montana has no choice but to stay and help Jane.
Montana may be in another country, but it doesn’t change the fact he’s on the run from bounty hunters. Ben Cutler (Callum Keith Rennie) has been hunting Montana for 10 years, and he isn’t going to stop because there’s a border in the way. Sooner or later the past is bound to catch up with Montana.
Gunless is the kind of film where you laugh from beginning to end. It’s the kind of film that lives with you for a long time, and it’s the kind of film you want to watch over and over again.
Gunless is so good because it does everything right. It makes fun of itself and of Canadian and American stereotypes without falling into parody. It creates genuinely likeable characters, but is careful to make sure no one is perfect. It’s heart-warming and funny, and yet it still manages to fit in some blood-pumping heroics. What makes it all work is the film’s perfect pace and timing. Just when you think events are about to take a dark turn, and the tension is unbearable, the film cleverly breaks the tension with a joke.
Another large part of why Gunless is so good is the chemistry of the cast. Paul Gross is outstanding. He’s brilliant when he’s making fun of himself, and he’s even better when he’s saving the day. Sienna Guillory lights up the screen with her wit and charm as the strong-willed Jane.
Callum Keith Rennie proves once again what terrific character actor he is with the despicable Cutler. Tyler Mane surprised me. I’d only ever seen him grunt as Sabertooth in X-Men. In Gunless he has to deliver lines and he is amazing. I can’t help but think his talent might have been wasted in X-Men.
It’s nice to see Canadians making films for Canadians that are just as good if not better than what Hollywood churns out. I’m looking forward to this becoming and increasing trend.
Mark Haskins’ column is a regular feature of the EMC.