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Director: Logan Miller
Cast: Ed Harris, January Jones, Jason Isaacs
Length: 95 min
Label: Arc Entertainment
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
As of late, there has been a resurgence in the Western Genre. Logan Miller’s Sweetwater, quoted on the back of the DVD cover as an “over-the-top hybrid of Tarantino and Coen Brothers” follows suit, though to a much lesser extent.
Former prostitute, Sarah (January Jones) is trying to make ends meet with her husband Miguel in New Mexico. They incur the wrath of religious cult leader Josiah (Jason Isaacs), and Sarah’s life is violently turned upside down. She sets out for revenge, pistol in hand, with the help of an eccentric sheriff (Ed Harris). Sounds promising, right? A Western revenge thriller, with a female protagonist (gasp), has all the inklings of being something great. Though, this is a perfect example of what sounds promising on paper, not translating well on the screen.
The story, a tried and true tale of good versus evil, has no real gravitas and drags along (even with a lean runtime of 95 minutes). There are great little moments peppered throughout, but for the most part, it’s a mixed bag of violence, oddly placed humor, and over-acting (or none at all, in January Jones’s case — more on that later). Being billed as a revenge thriller, you’d expect there to be more to the actual revenge. Yes, there are shootouts, but everything feels rushed and builds to an anti-climatic shootout in a sheep pen (yes, a sheep pen).
Without a doubt, Ed Harris and Jason Isaacs carry the film. Through the shambles that is the story, they relish in their roles, bringing an almost “Looney Tunes-esque” eccentricity. January Jones on the other hand, plays the tough as nails, steel-faced heroine almost too well. I understand she’s been through hardships, her husband has just been killed, she lost her baby, et cetera, but damn — emote something more than a pout every once in a while! The only other thing worth mentioning about her performance is that January Jones does appear topless in a scene by a lake, so there’s that.
Audio & Video
The video transfer is good. There is some noise, particularly during the night scenes, but not enough to deter someone from viewing. Colors look nice and pop amongst the gorgeous landscapes (Ed Harris’s blue coat, for example). The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is great. There’s no popping or hissing in the dialogue or soundtrack and the levels are evenly mixed.
The Special Features are abysmally thin on the DVD. There’s The Making of Sweetwater, a behind-the-scenes featurette with interviews from the stars, as well as the Miller brothers. There’s “Cold Gray Light of Dawn” by Hudson Moore, the song that plays over the end credits. It’s a still image of Moore, with the song playing over it and a link to his website. There’s also a Theatrical Trailer.
Logan Miller’s Sweetwater boasts gorgeous cinematography and decent, although over-the-top, performances (particularly from Ed Harris and Jason Issacs), but it lacks a good story. It’s often times predictable; relying too heavily on genre related tropes and builds everything up to a very anti-climatic ending. If you’re a die-hard fan of Westerns, this is probably worth a rental.