The Cowboy Way (1994)

Genres - Action, Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Buddy Film, Action Comedy  |   Release Date - May 13, 1994 (USA)  |   Run Time - 106 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Derek Armstrong

What is "the cowboy way?" According to this movie, it means you always wear your hat, even in New York, when you're trying to blend in and spy on your adversaries. It means your first instinct to neutralize a pawn shop thug is to lasso him and tie him up like a steer. It means you convince an NYPD horse cop to abandon all sense of protocol and join you on a villain-catching hootenanny, because he "always wanted to be a cowboy." No one will want to be a cowboy after watching The Cowboy Way, a disastrous misfire produced by usual hit-maker Brian Grazer. Kiefer Sutherland plays Sonny, a guy with such evident street smarts, you almost forget he's a prairie boy, except for that moustache and ten-gallon hat. He's essentially the same character Sutherland plays on 24, always knowing exactly what to do, and never needing backup -- which makes him not that much different from every character Sutherland has ever played. Also fully typecast is Woody Harrelson as Pepper, so fully in comic relief mode that he's nearly useless in helping Sonny track down the bad guys, despite the script's belabored emphasis on teamwork. Not that the writers gave him much to work with, but director Gregg Champion is inept with actors, leading to a particularly awkward performance by Ernie Hudson as the mounted cop and a waste of an appealing actress Cara Buono as the not-very-Cuban immigrant daughter. The film's only laughter comes from seeing Sutherland and Harrelson walking around like rodeo vigilantes. That's probably not what anyone intended, and it's definitely not "the cowboy way."