Maverick (1994)

A review by John Chard

From the moment I slapped eyes on this hombre, I smelled trouble. And re-fried beans.

Maverick is directed by Richard Donner and written by William Goldman. It stars Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster and James Garner, with support coming from Alfred Molina, Graham Greene and James Coburn. The music is scored by Randy Newman and Vilmos Zsigmond is on photography. It's based on the 1950s television series of the same name and the plot finds Gibson as Maverick and follows his attempt to take his place in a major five-card draw poker tournament. With Foster and Garner in tow, there's plenty of adventures and misadventures along the way.

After Costner's Dances With Wolves and Eastwood's Unforgiven had reignited interest in the Western genre in the 90s, Richard Donner and his team felt the time was right to unleash a light hearted Western on the mainstream audience. Timing was important, as was the casting, but Maverick is the sort of family friendly fun that could in truth be released at any time in any decade and still be a hit at the box office. It's not particularly clever in narrative or themes, but with its blending of action, romance and comedy seamlessly coming together as a whole, Maverick is practically hard to dislike. Even the cast seem to be having a real good time, with Gibson smooth and roguish, Foster dainty yet spunky and Garner (the original Maverick from the TV show) offering up a sort of stoic maturity over proceedings; with all three playing the comedy with ease (how great it is to see Foster in such a role). Donner and Goldman have also shown respect to both the TV show and the Western in general (check out those lovely landscapes), while it's always fun to play spot the numerous stars in the cameos.

Harmless fluff, then, but always watchable and never once over reaching itself by trying to be something it's not. 7.5/10