Maverick (1994)

"I promise I will lose for at least an hour." - Mel Gibson, to a table
of reluctant poker players

MAVERICK, the first of two Warner westerns to hit the summer screen,
reteams Mel Gibson and Richard Donner for an update of the 1957-62 ABC
TV series. Despite a pair of ace co-stars and a script by SUNDANCE
scribe William Goldman, MAVERICK is merely an OK corral of top talent.

"Maverick" is Bret Maverick (Gibson), a sharp-witted, sharp-shooting
card player en route to a championship poker game. He's cashing old
debts as he rides between towns, making both friends and enemies along
the way. His "love" is a pesky pickpocket (Jodie Foster), his foil is a
former lawman (James Garner, who originated the title role on
television) and, together, they face everything from a runaway stage to
not-so-renegade indians.

MAVERICK proves, once again, that what works on paper doesn't always
work on-screen. This witty western-wannabe isn't exactly D.O.A., but it
ain't exactly F.U.N., either. Simply, MAVERICK never comes alive.

Gibson makes a gamely gambler, but, compared to his antsy antics as
detective Martin Riggs, the man-with-a-face seems stuck in slow motion.
Foster is a loss with her (intentionally?) bad Southern accent and
Garner doesn't get enough shared screen time to truly tap his talents.

(If you commit to sit, don't miss scene-stealing Graham Greene as an
indian who addresses Maverick as "Mav.")

Donner's direction is hardly lethal. The man can make a movie, no
question, but he lacks the precision to punch-up a standard set-piece
like a runaway stage. He's backed by a posse of pros, though, and
therein lies the irony. Far from an inspiring experience, MAVERICK is
*still* crafted better than recent roundups TOMBSTONE and GERONIMO.

Film fans should savor a cornucopia of cameos recruited from film,
television, and country music. Blink and you'll miss Corey Feldman,
Margot Kidder, Doug McClure, Dan Hedaya, Dub Taylor, Denver Pyle, Robert
Fuller, Hal Ketchum, Waylon Jennings, and Clint Blink.  (Rated "PG"/
129 min.)

BOTTOM LINE:  Despite a treasure trove of top talent both before and
behind the camera, MAVERICK is another western-by-numbers that delivers
more yawns than yukes.

Grade: C+

Copyright 1994 by Michael J. Legeros

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