'Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story': Film Review

Courtesy of Cinedigm
John Ford's heirs should be suing for copyright infringement.

Country singer Trace Adkins plays the title role in this Western based on a real-life robber.

It takes a lot of chutzpah to use the word "stagecoach" in the title of a Western movie. Devotees of John Ford's enduring 1939 classic need not bother with the latest oater vehicle for Trace Adkins (Traded), although undiscriminating viewers looking for a shoot-'em-up on late-night cable could do worse than Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story, currently receiving a limited theatrical release.

The country music singer turned actor plays the central role of Nathaniel Reed, based on a real-life outlaw who committed numerous stagecoach, train and bank robberies in the late 1800s. (Fun fact: He lived until 1950 and even published an autobiography in 1936.) As the film would have it, Reed — whose alias stemmed from his favorite brand of whiskey and the state in which he committed many of his crimes — tried to go straight, living quietly as a rancher and husband to his devoted wife, Laura (Michelle Harrison).

Unfortunately, just when he thought he was out, they pulled him back in, "they" being Woody Calhoun (Kim Coates) — a lawman who lost an eye during one of Nate's robberies and has been intent on vengeance since — and his female deputy (Helena Marie), who's tougher than most of the male gunslingers. When Calhoun finally tracks Nate down, the confusion after the resulting gunfight results in Nate mistakenly believing that his wife is dead, and rejoining his former cohorts Frank (Claude Duhamel) and Sid (Judd Nelson) in their robbing ways.

Adkins has a suitably grizzled, deep-voiced presence to lend authenticity to his role, but his thespian skills leave something to be desired. Judd Nelson looks like he's having a fun time playing Western dress-up, but to say he's less than convincing is an understatement. As is so often the case with Westerns, the villains are the most interesting characters, especially as played here by the compelling Coates and Marie.

Director Terry Miles — who, judging by such previous credits as Dawn Rider and Lonesome Dove Church, seems to have an affinity for the genre — does reasonably well on an obviously limited budget, although the Canadian locations aren't exactly convincing. But the action sequences and gun battles are staged with enough flair to satisfy genre fans who haven't gotten their fill with the recent Magnificent Seven remake.

Production: Nasser Group North
Distributor: Cinedigm Entertainment Group
Cast: Trace Adkins, Judd Nelson, Kim Coates, Claude Duhamel, Michelle Harrison, Garry Chalk, Helena Marie
Director/editor: Terry Miles
Screenwriters: Dan Benamor, Matt Williams
Producer: Jack Nasser
Executive producers: Jacob Nasser, Dureyshevar, Tara Cowell-Plain, Joseph Nasser, Danny Webber
Director of photography: Jan Klompie
Production designer: Bob Bottieri
Composer: Sam Levin

Not rated, 90 minutes

 

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