True Grit - (4 1/2 Stars)
Remakes, sequels and reboots. It seems that about 90% of everything Hollywood puts out is one of these, or maybe even a "re-imagining." With that in mind, the Coen brothers (directors of movies such as Fargo or No Country For Old Men) try their hand, but don't call it a remake or a reboot with any venom in your tone. The Coen's "True Grit" goes back to the source material for its inspiration: the novel.
Having not read the novel myself, I can't say whether or not this version is closer than the John Wayne version. It's also been awhile since I've seen the older version of the movie. So, I'm mostly going to speak about how the movie stands on its own. It is important to always do this when it comes to any "re-movie," so that you aren't viewing the movie from a biased standpoint or expecting too much (or too little). How does the movie stand up? Very well. The Coen brothers have crafted an excellent western that the fits among the best of the genre and includes fantastic performances from many of its stars.
When her father is murdered, stubborn young Maddie Ross seeks vengeance by hiring a grizzled, old U.S. Marshal by the name of "Rooster" Cogburn to lead her after the murderer. Jeff Bridges brings his own surly take on Rooster, without trying to do a John Wayne impersonation and Matt Damon continues to demonstrate his versatility as an actor as LaBoeuf, a dandy of a Texas Ranger. Even Josh Brolin delivers in his relatively short screen time. But the real standout is Hailee Steinfield as the young avenger, Maddie Ross. She exudes a confidence and ease that would be expected of someone more than twice her age. This is spectacularly displayed early on when she negotiates (as she does so well throughout the movie) over some animals her deceased father had previously purchased. Steinfield was unfortunately snubbed (as was the entire movie) by the Golden Globes. It would be a crime against movies everywhere if she isn't at least given a nod at the Oscars. That being said, I fully believe she deserves to win.
Besides the phenomenal casting, almost every other aspect of the movie is executed perfectly. The scenery and cinematography are perfectly bleak and fitting of any of the best westerns. The dialogue is also funnier than most comedies I watched all of last year, without detracting from the overall seriousness of the movie. All in all, "True Grit" is the complete package and one of the best movies of 2010.
(110 minutes - Rated PG-13 for some intense sequences of western violence including disturbing images - 2010) (Netflix)