The Jack Bull

  • 1999
  • Movie
  • R
  • Western

In rough-and-tumble Wyoming territory, the law caters to powerful ranchers like Henry Ballard (L.Q. Jones); in fact, to all extents and purposes, he is the law. When horse breeder and trader Myrl Redding (John Cusack) signs a statehood petition, Ballard retaliates by charging Redding for travel privileges through his land. Unable to pay in full, Redding...read more

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Reviewed by Robert Pardi
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In rough-and-tumble Wyoming territory, the law caters to powerful ranchers like Henry Ballard (L.Q. Jones); in fact, to all extents and purposes, he is the law. When horse breeder and trader Myrl Redding (John Cusack) signs a statehood petition, Ballard retaliates by charging Redding for travel privileges through his land. Unable to pay in full, Redding leaves two horses for collateral, but upon his return from a horse auction, Redding discovers Ballard's men have abused his steeds. Demanding that Ballard restore the animals to health, Redding is appalled when his lawsuit is dismissed by Judge Wilkins (Ken Pogue), a Ballard loyalist. When Redding's wife is killed (in an accident precipitated by Ballard's henchmen) while en route to Cheyenne to deliver the statehood petition, Ballard vows to see justice served.

Given the current dearth of Westerns, fans of the genre are bound to appreciate this intelligently conceived sagebrush saga despite its flaws. On the positive side, this handsomely mounted production offers genuine panoramic sweep, laconic authenticity, and several hoof-pounding action sequences. It's a thinking man's Western that revels in irony and questions the wisdom of doing the wrong thing for the right reason. Too bad it fails to enlist sympathy for its troubled — and troublesome — antihero, a not-so-small matter that's compounded by Cusack's singular lack of magnetism

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: R
  • Review: In rough-and-tumble Wyoming territory, the law caters to powerful ranchers like Henry Ballard (L.Q. Jones); in fact, to all extents and purposes, he is the law. When horse breeder and trader Myrl Redding (John Cusack) signs a statehood petition, Ballard re… (more)

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