Sweetwater Blu-ray Review
It’s in the small New Mexico town of Sweetwater that Sarah Ramírez was once employed as a prostitute, and it’s in that same strip of land that she plans to create a fresh identity for herself as wife and respectable citizen. Means haven’t allowed her to pick up and move, but that doesn’t mean she can’t start anew with her husband, Miguel.
Sarah (January Jones, AMC’s MAD MEN) and Miguel (Eduardo Noriega, 2008’s VANTAGE POINT) have eyed and purchased a piece of land next to a larger property owned by Prophet Josiah (Jason Isaacs, who played Lucius Malfoy in six of the seven HARRY POTTER movies). Not once does he seem to be the man he should be. He walks around demanding apologies and scowling. He goes on and on about the wages of sin and spouts lines like, “Every man travels the winter highway to either ruin or salvation.” He’s a preacher who’s as good with a gun and a knife as he is a sermon.
This, of course, causes major problems and sets up the revenge plot of the movie. Early on, Miguel’s unintentional misstep finds him being insulted and then murdered by the vicious Josiah. What Josiah himself doesn’t realize is that Sarah isn’t all looks. She’s a woman who can handle her own, as she demonstrates in the scene where she jabs an umbrella into the eye of a man spying on her in a changing room. She even grabs the attention of the grizzled Sheriff Jackson (Ed Harris, who won Golden Globes for THE TRUMAN SHOW and GAME CHANGE).
Just about every standard of the revenge subgenre is present in SWEETWATER (formerly SWEET VENGEANCE). The one difference is that the protagonist is a female, which turns out to be a touch-up that makes SWEETWATER a watchable movie. (Some might say they had fun with THE QUICK AND THE DEAD, starring Sharon Stone, for the same reason.)
SWEETWATER (formerly SWEET VENGEANCE) is directed by Logan Miller, who previously helmed 2008’s TOUCHING HOME with his brother Noah, also starring Harris. Miller doesn’t make any interesting directorial choices and so, added with the lackluster screenplay (by Miller, Noah and Andrew McKenzie), the movie is just another straight-forward revenge flick with another pile of dead bodies, another thinly layered hero and another slow journey to the shootout.
While seeing a female protagonist in the 1800s west take out all of the scuzzy dirtbags that did her wrong isn’t very common, the general idea is. And while it’s always great to see a strong woman take down men who think they’re even stronger, that alone is not enough. There should be more of a motivation other than, “You ruined my family, so now it’s time to pay your dues.”
The problems in SWEETWATER come up in just about every such movie. It would feel like a direct-to-video effort if it wasn’t for the steady performances by Jones, Isaacs and Harris. It’s also nice to see Betty Draper pick up her first gun since season one.
SWEETWATER BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 2.35:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. SWEETWATER looks very good in high-definition, as the transfer captures many details of the western setting (from dusty dirt roads to the occasional greens of the ranch) and period clothes (from Prophet Josiah’s black suit to Sarah’s purple dress).
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Subtitles in English. The audio transfer captures every gunshot, animal noise and line of dialogue without any detectable flaw.
The Making of SWEETWATER (10:32): Director Logan Miller, in addition to stars January Jones, Ed Harris and more, discuss working on SWEETWATER.
“Cold Grey Light of Dawn” by Hudson Moore (3:19): The song plays over a still image of Moore.