Unforgiven (1992)

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An ex-gunslinger comes out of retirement to collect the bounty on a pair of cowpokes who disfigured a young prostitute.

Clint Eastwood directs and stars in a deconstruction of the myth of the old west that examines the kind of man who would exist in a society which provides mean drunks and arrogant, prideful boys with lethal weapons. Saul Rubinek’s author of the romanticised versions of the stories provides the eyes through which the myths are dispelled as Gene Hackman reveals the truth behind them. But even Little Bill, himself little more than a brutal thug with delusions of grandeur, revels in his own exploits and it is only Eastwood’s reformed killer who shows any shame or wish for redemption for his past actions. In the hostile environment of the American west it is not the most noble or even brave who thrive, but the most cold-blooded and the abilities of a gunslinger could be measured by something as arbitrary as the standard of his eyesight. Also containing comments on the gleeful pleasure the media glean from the violence of others and the consequences of murder, the intelligent, insightful script combines with masterful performances by some of the best actors of their generation to form one of the best westerns ever made.

One of the high points of Eastwood’s long and illustrious career.

10/10

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