“Clumsy plotting damages interesting idea and decent acting.”
At the end of the Civil War, marauding gangs rage through Texas, raping and killing. The victims of one such raid fight back; three years later, they have become the Hooded Angels, a notorious and feared group of bank robbers led by Hannah (Stander). But on their tail is Wes (Johansson), whose father was an innocent victim in their original battle. He and his friends catch up with the women in a town where they’re plotting their next raid and, with painful inevitably, love blossoms between Wes and Hannah.
This mixes the highly-effective, and the embarrassingly crass and badly-written. The “three years later” comes as a surprise; worse still is the shock when you find out one character is another’s daughter. Credibility explodes entirely when Wes and Hannah go at it like knives, immediately after she reveals she killed his father, and isn’t sorry in the slightest. On the other hand, this is a Western without villains; both sides are portrayed with sympathy, yet without soft-pedalling the brutality, in particular when the women ambush a posse that is following them.
A clear leader in that category is Ellie, an insecure, psychotic lesbian, beautifully portrayed by Venter, avoiding the obvious cliches. Amanda Donohoe, another member of the gang, also turns in a good performance. Stander and Johansson are less effective: one scene will work, while the next will seem stiff as a board. Could certainly have been much better, yet in the end – at least, until the end, which struggles through gymnastic convolutions in order to make Wes come out clean – this has enough memorable moments to justify its existence.
Dir: Paul Thomas
Star: Chantell Stander, Paul Johansson, Juliana Venter, Amanda Donohoe