Ten years after three seasons of David Milch's HBO Deadwood series left everyone wanting more, its creators try to hang on to those gold flakes with a movie-length sequel.
What viewers find in this reprise set on the eve of South Dakota's statehood is a rather unremarkable swirl through the pan. Sure, it's at first charming to see the wrinkled skin around Sheriff Bullock's brooding eyes from a steady Timothy Olyphant (now actually in love with an underused Anna Gunn), a hoary-headed version of Brad Dourif as Doc Cochran and an extremely pregnant Trixie (Paula Malcomson). The overriding emotion, though, is that this old home week of sorts suffers from trying to pack too much into a two-hour stint. Each storyline need not get a predictable tidy conclusion, yet it seems this is the goal of the venture.
The flowery, full language of the series is reflected in this version, but we miss the long soliloquies from Al Swearengen, as Ian McShane's character is sickly and stunted in this plotline. Appearances from Wu (Keone Young) and Dan Dority (W Earl Brown) are disappointing, as is the reliance on a few too many flashbacks.
On the whole, there's little suspense, no surprise and absolutely nothing new. Gone, too, are the tensions of lawlessness vs. community mores and the integral nods to historical social conditions and milestones. It just feels like a shallow tale that relies on how much we loved these people and their bruises a decade ago.
Milch hinges this story on the return of George Hearst as the villain du jour. That Hearst had a role in the Black Hills mining boom is true, yet his outsized power here is out of place for a guy who was by then not actually a US senator, but a California state lawmaker who'd be dead in two years. We won't spoil just how Deadwood the Movie leaves him. Let's just say the plot isn't the only thing we wish was in the grave.
+Still love Olyphant and McShane
-Missing the expected history and drama
Directed by Daniel Minahan
With McShane, Olyphant, Gunn, Dourif and Malcolmson
HBO, NR, 110 min.