Critic Reviews

69

Metascore

Based on 9 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
80
A truly great Western from Clint that is bleakly atmospheric and charming in turns.
80
After a period of directorial uncertainty, the film demonstrated Eastwood's ability to recreate his first starring role, as the mythic Man with No Name of the Italian Westerns, and to subtly undercut it through comedy and mockery.
80
A cautiously optimistic epic, deeply rooted in American history. Bolstered by Surtees's magnificent cinematography, Fielding's fine score and an excellent supporting cast highlighted by the scene-stealing dry wit of Chief Dan George, Josey Wales affirms life and community with bracing conviction.
75
Clint Eastwood's The Outlaw Josey Wales is a strange and daring Western that brings together two of the genre's usually incompatible story lines. On the one hand, it's about a loner, a man of action and few words, who turns his back on civilization and lights out for the Indian nations. On the other hand, it's about a group of people heading West who meet along the trail and cast their destinies together. What happens next is supposed to be against the rules in Westerns, as if Jeremiah Johnson were crossed with Stagecoach: Eastwood, the loner, becomes the group's leader and father figure.
75
The remnants of war are fractious and far-flung in Clint Eastwood's impressive revisionist western.
70
Although the last part of the film becomes repetitive and slightly confused, Eastwood manages the picaresque plot with skill, and his visuals have a high-charged, almost Germanic quality. Wales also possesses a touching emotional vulnerability that marks another significant step away from Eastwood's often-overcriticized macho image. All in all, a very creditable film.
70
This directorial style seems to spring naturally from the man, assuming that Eastwood's screen character, in its mature, or post-spaghetti, formulation is a true reflection of his sensibility. The flat, quiet voice, the understated grace of his movements, the sweet almost boyish manner, contrasting so curiously with the violent deeds he performs, have a remarkable way of gaining sympathetic interest not so much through command as through insinuation.
60
The screenplay [based on the book Gone to Texas by Forrest Carter] is another one of those violence revues, with carnage production numbers slotted every so often and intercut with Greek chorus narratives by John Vernon and Chief Dan George.
50
The movie tends to muffle and sell short whatever points it may be trying to make. There seems to be a ghost of an attempt to assert the romantic individualism of the South against the cold expansionism of the North. Every Unionist is vicious and incompetent, whereas Wales, despite his spitting, is really a perfect gentleman. There is something cynical about this primitive one-sidedness in what is not only a historical context, but happens also to be our own historical context. To the degree a movie asserts history, it should at least attempt to do it fairly.

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