With the exception of a fine lead performance by Richard Boone, there's very little to recommend Rio Conchos other than as an adequately produced, routinely told Western-action film. The basic story structure of the lone wolf ex-Confederate soldier (Boone) who becomes forced by circumstance to confront his past was overly familiar long before Rio Conchos. Of course, as is standard for such stories, the hero's family has been slaughtered, giving him an at least nominally sympathetic background for his violent acts. He wants to be left alone, but former associates predictably pop up to complicate his life. It's not that these elements lack for dramatic potential (The Outlaw Josey Wales, for example, uses them superbly), but rather that the execution here is pedestrian. We've already seen the renegade society done better in The Comancheros. Many films have better performances by sports stars turned actors than the one given here by Jim Brown. The Confederate villains are trite caricatures who fail to generate any sense of suspense or menace. And so on. What does work about Rio Conchos is the performance of Boone, who manages to keep things watchable long after the story has expended its momentum. Gordon Douglas was one of Hollywood's least auteur directors, a studio functionary whose primary skill was getting the film made on schedule and within a budget -- essentially a cut-rate version of Michael Curtiz -- but without the latter's grand sense of storytelling and cinematic vision.
by Richard Gilliam review