I’m a sucker for Westerns. Go figure – “Tombstone” was a Toombs family favorite growing up. My fandom of the genre is what likely led me to reviewing “Apache Junction” (available in select theaters and on VOD beginning Friday, Sept. 24). I’m not altogether enthused about the arrangement nor the picture itself, but it contained enough Western conventions to keep this cowpoke mildly entertained.
Annabelle Angel (Scout Taylor-Compton of Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” flicks) is a reporter for William Randolph Hearst’s San Francisco Examiner. She’s traveled to Apache Junction, Ariz. in order to cover outlaws in the territory despite the objections of Army Capt. Hensley (country singer Trace Adkins). Hensley’s agreed to let lawlessness run rampant in Apache Junction so long as the criminal element continues to keep his men in meat, grain and whores.
Upon her arrival in Apache Junction, Angel meets saloon keeper Al Longfellow (Thomas Jane), infamous outlaw Jericho Ford (Stuart Townsend), kindly prostitute/Ford’s lady love Mary Primm (Danielle Gross, late of Starz’s “Heels”) and Ford’s Native American friend/bunkmate Wasco (Ricky Lee, who appeared uncredited in movies such as “The Ridiculous 6,” “Jane Got a Gun,” “Hell or High Water” and “The Magnificent Seven” (2016)).
It doesn’t take long before Angel is almost raped by Capt. Hensley’s son Pvt. Hensley (Nicholas Ryan) and a couple of his cohorts. Thankfully, Ford intervenes on Angel’s behalf, murdering the younger Hensley and placing himself on a collision course with the elder Hensley. Capt. Hensley enlists the services of inveterate gambler/gunslinger Oslo Pike (Ed Morrone) to track and kill Ford.
Townsend and Jane almost became big ol’ movie stars and they’re the best reasons to watch “Apache Junction.”
Townsend’s probably best known for dating Charlize Theron for the better part of a decade, almost appearing as Aragorn in Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and playing Lestat and Dorian Gray in respective failed franchise starters “Queen of the Damned” and “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.” The dude dons his cowboy duds well and plays the stoicism of Ford expertly.
Jane made an impression on me with supporting roles in mid-to-late ‘90s movies such as “Face/Off” and “Boogie Nights.” His stabs at being a leading man such as “Deep Blue Sea,” “61*,” “The Punisher” and “The Mist” also impressed me. He isn’t given much to do in “Apache Junction,” but what he does he does well. Jane lends the picture credibility.
The rest of the cast is a bit of a mixed bag. I was pleasantly surprised by Adkins. Mr. “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” plays most of his scenes from behind a desk, but his voice makes a real meal out of the dialogue and always snapped me back to attention. Taylor-Compton is likable enough as Angel, but her voiceover would feel more at home in a Disney Channel original. Gross brings warmth to the proceedings, but her role is mostly reduced to being a damsel in distress. Lee has a cool presence and vibe, but isn’t the best actor. Morrone resembles comedic performer Jason Mantzoukas to such an extent that I couldn’t help but laugh when he threatens to pop a prostitute’s eyeball with a straight razor.
As written and directed by Justin Lee, “Apache Junction” feels like lesser cut scenes from the “Red Dead Redemption” video game meets those Tom Selleck Westerns that always air on Hallmark Channel. It’s R-rated, but largely bloodless – likely the result of budgetary constraints … the picture could’ve used more guts on a coupla different fronts.