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Friday, August 21, 2009

Maverick (1994) - a Western comedy starring Mel Gibson

The movie is based on a Television Series that ran between 1957 and 1962, starring James Garner in the lead role (and the 1994 film was not the first movie made on this TV series, just the latest). What does Maverick actually mean ? Maverick was termed after Samuel A. Maverick (1803–70), a Texas pioneer who left his calves unbranded (as opposed to most people who put a brand on their livestock). Maverick is also a term used for somebody who takes a stand very different from colleagues, and in the case of the movie, maverick is meant to depict a person who behaves most unpredictably.
The movie was meant to be a good combination of humour (sometimes dark) along with a fast moving plot with surprises at every corner, and was a decent box office hit. It was never meant to be pitching for the Oscars, and hence must have been surprised when it got nominated for Oscar for Best Costume Design.
The movie is set in the American Wild West, with a certain disregard for the law, and where a man makes his own fortune with a gun and his own instincts. In this case, Bret Maverick (Mel Gibson) is on his way to a major five-card poker competition. Since he is a gambler, winning such a competition is a way to prove that he is the best. He however needs to collect money owed to him, and he needs this amount since there is a $25,000 entry fee for the tournament, and he is $3,000 short.

The movie is not only about the poker competition, but also about the journey that Maverick takes to reach there. He meets 3 co-passengers called Angel (Alfred Molina), a young con-artist calling herself Mrs Annabelle Bransford (Jodie Foster), and Marshal Zane Cooper, a legendary lawman of the west (this role is essayed by James Garner, who played Bret Maverick (played by Mel Gibson in the movie) in the original TV series). Maverick is going to have a running battle with Angel during the movie, as they are also rival gamblers.
They go through a series of adventures, including one in which the driver of the stage-coach dies when the coach is moving at full speed and the coach needs to be controlled, more adventures with Indians, manipulated by Maverick. In between Angel waylays Maverick, attempting to hang him from a tree. However, Maverick eventually escapes and manages to join the game. Eventually, after early rounds, the 4 finalists of the game are Bransford, Angel, Maverick, and Commodore Duvall (James Coburn), who is the organizer of the tournament, and the owner of the boat on which the tournament is being held. Cooper is responsible for security of the tournament.
Eventually, Maverick wins, and in the resultant shoot-out, Angel is killed by Cooper and Maverick. However, the movie has its twists in the end, and Cooper runs away with the money rather than give it to Maverick, and it further turns out that the Commodore was also in league with Cooper. What happens next ? Does Maverick get the money back ? What about Bransford ?

Maverick (released in 1994), starring Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, and James Garner

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