The Quick and the Dead (1995) cliche festival
I think even director Sam Raimi will admit that there are a lot of clichés in The Quick and the Dead (1995), but he guns them down like a satire or a black comedy. In reality, this movie is a black comedy, filled with dozens of references to death, redemption, and cynicism. However, it has a LOT of stereotypes and a LOT of poor characterizations, as it tries to be funny, or satirical, or both. The movie has Raimi’s style all over it, and Sharon Stone tries to save it by squinting out a good performance, but the results are lukewarm.
As a director, Sam Raimi was stuck in a rut around this time. He made Army of Darkness (1992) a few years prior to this movie, and it shows. The camera angles, sharp cuts, and constant zooming he used in the Evil Dead series are all over the place in The Quick and the Dead. The constant zooming and weird angles are now accompanied by overdramatic music by Alan Silvestri. The direction is not good. The zooming is the most annoying part.
I think American audiences were not ready for this type of Western, not since Unforgiven matured them in 1992. Clint Eastwood delivered a Western that could be touching and visceral, and the trailers for The Quick and the Dead had the same vibe. However, the movie really isn’t much more than a superficial revenge thriller, filled with stock characters in the name of satire.
The stereotypes try to be humorous. Leo DiCaprio plays a stereotypical young man looking for respect from his father, which is the most obvious cliché in the whole thing. There’s a Native American man who speaks with a broken accent and his character borders on a bad, racial joke. Actually, it is a bad racial stereotype. All the characters are stereotypes, like Gene Hackman as a cruel leader and Lance Hendriksen as a con-man who is really a liar. Embarrassingly, Sam Raimi litters the screen with Mexicans in sombreros and old men with scruffy beards, possibly to satirize traditional Westerns, but it doesn’t really work very well.
To top off the jokes, the script places a woman dead center in the middle of these stereotypes, which works as she’s the opposite of your typical gun-fighter. Sharon Stone actually does well in this movie, but the movie is filled with other stuff that crowds out her character. Russell Crowe actually takes over the climax and steals much of the screen-time where Stone should have been featured, which shows you that she’s only there to contrast the stereotypes, in a play for more satire.
Overall, this movie is a bad satire, but at least it tries. Sharon Stone is pretty good and Leo DiCaprio has some good dialogue at the end, but otherwise the characters are god-awful. Most of them try to satirize the West, but come off as bad stereotypes. Still, despite all the crap, I still watch it on occasion for Sharon Stone. Gene Hackman plays a guy named Herod, but Sharon Stone rides into town and blows up his temple with 20 barrels of dynamite, in maybe the most over-the-top Biblical allusion ever.