Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews as I go through the process of finishing post and releasing my 12 Westerns in 12 Months during 2020. I am watching these films not from an audience perspective but as a filmmaker, as a student of the genre.
Week 116: Across the Line
This month, I’m looking at “Modern Westerns” since I’m currently in production on one in Idaho called Treasure Valley. I’ll be working with Brad Johnson on this film so that was twice the reason to finally give Across the Line a look.
The film, which might look like a cheap TV movie from the cover, is actually a cinematic, gritty modern Western with elements of Film Noir thrown in. The lighting and look of the movie are great. The acting is stellar, especially from Brad who I think excels when playing a moody hero. Here, his brooding cowboy/sheriff shows the actor at his best.
Where the film suffers is in the narrative, which gets over-complicated and hard to believe at times. Regardless, the film’s strengths overweigh it’s weaknesses. A lot of Western fans will claim that the “Modern Western” is not part of the genre at all. I see where they’re coming from but I beg to differ and decided to come up with criteria with which to judge whether a film in a contemporary setting counts as a Western or not. Here are the five points:
1. Explores Western culture and lifestyle in a modern context.
2. Story revolves around justice and injustice in a significant way, especially involving one or more outlaws and a figure of authority/law enforcement.
3. Includes the riding of horses.
4. The setting must be in the West or a similar frontier-like location.
5. Characters appear in some modern variation of the traditional Western wardrobe.
Across the Line hits four out of these five and by those standards, I believe qualifies as a modern variation on the Western.
Watched on Tubi.