When it comes to great actors, the one with the longest legacy to date is John Wayne. I personally feel he’s a little overrated and out of over 200 movies, there’s only a hand full that I really like. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good actor and to be fare he has done some great films. Some of my favorites are “Big Jake”, “Rio Lobo” and “The Cowboys”. But the first John Wayne film I ever saw was a little 1969 western called “True Grit”. I was really young when I saw this film (1st grade if I remember correctly) and to this day it still feels like a classic. The story was good, the characters were memorable and in my opinion it’s one of his best performances, (in fact it’s the only film he won an academy award for). So when I heard there was going to be a remake, I knew I had to see it and give my thoughts on it. It feels strange when films like this get remade, when “Friday the 13th” was remade, people were constantly comparing it to the original but “True Grit” is more of a fresh experience for everyone (maybe that’s why it was so successful).
Well, hears my thoughts, I didn’t hate it but it felt like an unnecessary remake. Some scenes were different but it was still the same plot, a girl hires a bounty hunter named Rooster Cogburn to go after the man who killed her father. They go on a journey and are aided by a Taxes ranger. Jeff Bridges dose an okay job as Rooster but he doesn’t surpass Wayne. Bridges feels more like a traditional cowboy, all dirty, always drinking and while he feels more like someone from this period, he isn’t a very likable character. The original Rooster Cogburn also got drunk and had something of a temper but he was so much more interesting. Whenever he talked, you had the feeling like he was repressing the emotions of a dark past. Matt Damon dose a decent job as the Texas ranger La Boeuf and is more memorable than Glen Campbell in the original but not by much. The best thing about this film by far is newcomer Hailee Steinfeld as the lead girl Mattie Ross. This is one performance that outdoes the original. You don’t just look at Hailee as a good actress, you really feel like you’re looking at this character in her own time. She felt so natural and she looked more like a traditional young cowgirl.
Another thing at work here are the locations, you get a strong feeling of the environment and the changing temperatures. The passing was really lousy, there were too many dialog heavy scenes that would just go on and on and when they ended, your left wondering, what was the point of that. There were a lot of pointless scenes that would pop up, run for a long time and then disappear without mention. I always liked the villains from the original and to be fare there were some improvements, Tom Chaney was more of a threat and Ned Pepper looked more like a dirty outlay. He always stood out as an interesting villain, Pepper was an outlaw but he was also sophisticated and at times he seemed like a gentleman. There are still some things involving the villains in the original that I prefer. For example, Chaney and Mattie interacted with each other before he killed her father and that helped build conflict and the snake pit scene in the original was scarier than this. My big problem was that this one was too depressing, the original had its fare share of drama but it ended on a high note and left you feeling good. This film just left you with a bad feeling and it ended on a downbeat note. Overall, it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t anything special. If your curios than rent it, if not stay away. I give the 2010 remake of “True Grit” 2 stars.