Maverick (1994)

Genres - Comedy, Western  |   Sub-Genres - Comedy Western, Buddy Film  |   Release Date - May 20, 1994 (USA)  |   Run Time - 121 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Derek Armstrong

Mel Gibson transplants his winking, nothing-can-go-wrong attitude from the Lethal Weapon movies to this high-energy, tongue-in-cheek update of the classic Western TV series, co-starring James Garner and Jodie Foster. After three previous collaborations, Gibson and Richard Donner are so familiar with one another that Maverick feels effortless, even during its big production numbers and smartly choreographed chase sequences. This is both an endearing quality and a fault of the film. Everyone is having such a good time, and the tone is so light, that even when Gibson is tied up on horseback with a noose around his neck, about to be lynched, he seems to know the situation will have a humorous outcome. The result is a film utterly satisfied with existing as big-budget escapism, whose empty core is beside the point. Beyond Gibson at his most glib and charming, Maverick finds Garner in winning form, serving as the link to the old series, and Foster indulging in surprisingly commercial fare by her standards, to good effect. This cartoon world of gunslingers, whose wit is as quick as their draw, culminates in a grand riverboat poker game, full of double, triple, and quadruple crosses. It's nothing more than a pre-packaged popcorn flick, but it's a reasonably fun one. Maverick was screenwriter William Goldman's first return to the Old West after Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.