Dawn Rider has whiskers on its whiskers; the movie started life in 1931 as an Oater starring Tom Tyler, followed with a John Wayne remake in 1935, another remake in ’38 and now, 74 years later, a Canadian production starring Christian Slater and Jill Hennessy.
This new version is a little bit rougher and a little bit smarter, and, because of Slater, it has a cynical edge that works. Hennessy has some hard bark as well, and she adds more than a little rustic prairie flavor without prettifying her at all. Donald Sutherland, sporting a rather spectacular beard, manages to look both wise and demented as the bounty hunter/peace officer who is looking to chase, arrest or kill Slater’s character.
Perhaps Sutherland sees this Western role as practice for the father-and-son project he and his son Kiefer are trying to launch, Redemption (if Kiefer can get out from under his television obligations). The actor is also anticipated to star alongside Brendan Gleeson in The McLean Boys. Taking place in the late 1870s British Columbia, the film is based on a true story about a family of outlaws led by Allan McLean; the citizen posse apparently required roughly 70 men to apprehend the outlaws.