Writers: Joel & Ethan Coen
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin
"I will not go back, not without Cheney, dead or alive." Mattie Ross (Steinfeld), the smartest and most outspoken 14-year-old girl in the Old West, hires Reuben "Rooster" Cogburn (Bridges), a US Marshal with a dark past, to track down Tom Chaney (Brolin), who killed her father. Texas Ranger LaBouef (Damon) is also pursuing Chaney for another crime, and the two combine their efforts.
On one hand, I feel like I shouldn't review this until I see the original with John Wayne (I have never seen a John Wayne film, and very few Westerns); on the other hand, that might help me be more objective, and review this as a film of its own merit, and not an adaptation. Steinfeld really steps up to the plate for her feature debut, especially considering a 21-year-old portrayed her character in the original film. Bridges, as always, comes through stellarly, playing another Southerner with booze issues like he did in last year's Crazy Heart, yet still making it an altogether separate character. Damon is a great foil for Bridges, and the two exchange barbs to add just enough humor in parts to make the film a bit lighter without being hammy. I could have used more of Brolin's villain, but he makes the most of his time onscreen. The Coens have created a masterpiece in honor of a bygone era of cinema, and it would be amiss to pass up. A-