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  • Purgatory
    • Purgatory
    • Runtime:94 min
    • Release Date:2014-07-31 23:31:19
    • Director: Uli Edel
    • Genres: Fantasy, Western
    • Studio:
MOVIE REVIEW:Purgatory
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*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Purgatory starts is set in the old Wild West where Blackjack Britton
(Eric Roberts) & his gang rob a bank in a town, soldiers unexpectedly
show up & after a shoot-out that leaves both soldiers & some of the
bank robbers dead Blackjack & his gang flee the town with an angry
posse in hot pursuit. Blackjack & his gang without rest & eventually
come across the small town of Refuge where no-one carries a gun, even
Sheriff Forrest (Sam Shepherd) & his Deputy (Donnie Wahlberg) are
unarmed. Blackjack & his gang see Refuge as easy prey, they intend to
rest up there for a while & then rob the place when they leave.
Howeversomething about Refuge isn't quite right, why are the townsfolk
so peaceful? Why are there no guns? Why do so many of the townsfolk
resemble famous dead outlaws?

Made for & originally shown on telly (by the TNT Network) this fantasy
Western was directed by Uli Edel & while the premise of an old American
Wild West town that acts as a half way stop for dead criminals who
during their lives at least had some humanity to prove that themselves
fit to enter Heaven rather than spend eternity in Hell doesn't exactly
sound brilliant I was surprised at how good Purgatory was. Don't get me
wrong though, Purgatory isn't any sort of forgotten masterpiece or even
approaching that but as a quirky little oddball mix of genres & styles
I did like it. The character's are strong here, by the time the final
stand-off came & the final shoot-out blasted into action I was really
into the offbeat story & likable character's. Various famous Wild West
outlaws are featured, Jesse James, Doc Holliday, Billy the Kid & Wild
Bill Hickock all make an appearance & are seen trying to save
themselves from spending eternity in Hell but to do so they must spend
ten years in Refuge & not so much as lift a gun let alone use one. The
story unfolds gradually, we learn little bits & pieces at a time rather
than one big reveal which is alright but once the town's secret does
finally come out the films almost over & we haven't had that big twist
where the whole story is thrown up in the air so the final realisation
is maybe a little flatter than it could have been. Also there's no real
explanation why Refuge is out in the middle of the desert or if the
townsfolk are already dead how they can be killed again by Blackjack &
his gang. At 90 odd minutes long it doesn't outstay it's welcome &
there's enough time for the story to take shape & unfold.

Some may be put off by the lack of action or horror elements, there's a
couple of shoot-outs but nothing amazing. The film has really good
production values, the sets & costumes & effects are really good with
shots like dozens of men on horseback riding along firing guns although
there is a silly CGI computer effect at the end which seems very at
odds with the old Wild West setting. Despite featuring several real
historical figures Purgatory obviously makes no serious attempt to be
factual or realistic.

Very well made with a rock solid cast of pros including Eric Roberts,
Sam Shepherd, Randy Quaid, Peter Stormare & Donnie Wahlberg while
Purgatory was one of the last feature film appearance's by R.G.
Armstrong. The cast all give good performances.

Purgatory is a surprisingly entertaining & sometimes touching little
fantasy Western that really had no right to be as good as it is, on
paper it sounds like a disaster but in reality Purgatory is a good
solid offbeat film that won't appeal to all but is much better than
many would expect.

|||

Purgatory plays like a ninety-four episode of "The Twilight Zone", that
despite a few predictable twists, is still a lot of fun to watch and a
cut above the usual made-for-television western of the last twenty
years or so.

Production values are good and so is the familiar cast of character
actors, led by baddies Eric Roberts and Peter Stormare, with Sam
Shepherd, Randy Quaid, Donnie Walberg, and R.G. Armstrong in his last
western appearance so far. They all do a great job, with Roberts and
Stormare playing it nice and rowdy.

Interestingly enough, co-stars R.G.Armstrong and John Dennis Johnston
appeared together eighteen years earlier in the southern-fried horror
flick The Beast Within.

|||

Outlaws heading for Mexico stumble across a small town called Refuge,
where no one carries a weapon and everyone welcomes strangers with open
arms. Problem is, these outlaws aren't having any of it, and decide to
burn down the place. Refuge, as we quickly discover, is actually the
Purgatory of the Bible, and is populated by such western stalwarts as
Wild Bill Hicock and Doc Holliday. For these familiar figures, there is
a vexsome problem: if they take to violence, they will get shipped off
to Hell post-haste. What's a man to do? A wonderful TV western,
fanciful and dramatic at the same time. Several familiar actors
including Sam Shepherd (erroneously listed as Sam Elliott on some
electronic TV guides), Eric Roberts and Randy Quaid keeps things
hopping.

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