MAVERICK. A dynamic film, full of gags and plot twists

The basis of the script is derived from the TV series of the same name, which aired from 1957 to 1962.


3 December 2023

When I think about movies that evoke a wide smile from the very first minutes, Maverick with Mel Gibson almost immediately comes to mind. Furthermore, it is somewhat forgotten, and for some strange reasons, it is rarely mentioned. This is a huge mistake because very few titles can provide as much joy.

In the early nineties, it seemed that the Western genre had already passed its prime. And then two major productions emerged – Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves and Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven. It turned out that interesting stories set in the Wild West could still be told. However, both of these films were thoroughly serious and demythologized the genre instead of offering pure, unpretentious entertainment. The creators of Maverick decided to approach the theme a bit differently, creating a dynamic, full of gags and plot twists film rooted in the 1950s, during the golden age of the Western. The basis of the script is derived from the TV series of the same name, which aired from 1957 to 1962. The lead role was played by James Garner, portraying Bret Maverick, a cardsharp traveling through the Wild West, experiencing adventures on the prairie, on steamboats, and in scattered long and wide towns like the United States. The immense popularity of the show and the star-studded cast (including Roger Moore from the third season onwards) ensured that the series was warmly remembered long after it ended.

And it was precisely the character of a poker player from the Wild West that William Goldman, the screenwriter responsible for excellent works such as Marathon Man with Dustin Hoffman and The Princess Bride, decided to explore in the early nineties. He created a humor-filled and brilliantly plotted story, perfect for a relaxed evening. Richard Donner, who had just achieved success with the third “Lethal Weapon” film, took the director’s chair. The echoes of Riggs and Murtaugh’s adventures resonate during the screening, especially in the excellent bank heist scene. “Maverick” also includes typical Western elements – we visit seedy saloons, remote holes, encounter Native Americans, travel by stagecoach, meet desperados and characters from under the dark star, bullets whizzing by our ears – all guided by a rogue with a dove’s heart and Mel Gibson’s magnetic gaze at the height of his popularity, before the triumph of Braveheart. James Garner and Jodie Foster also accompany him. And everyone has a great time on set, evident in every second. Donner’s film is like a long anecdote that engages and entertains from beginning to end. The pace is perfectly maintained, and the likable characters make you root for them from the first minute of the screening. The friendship between Gibson and Foster also began with Maverick. The actress supported him years later when his drunken escapades were leaked to the media.

As the main character is a cardsharp, there is no shortage of scenes at the card table, with the culmination taking place on the steamboat during a major tournament. And although poker duels don’t hold the tension as strongly as those in The Sting or Casino Royale and are more of a pretext to show more gags, they are still enjoyable to watch.

The cast includes many more or less known names. In addition to the actors mentioned earlier, you can see Alfred Molina, James Coburn, Geoffrey Lewis, Dana Hedeaya, Corey Feldman, Danny Glover, or Superman’s girl, Margot Kidder. The whole movie is complemented by Randy Newman’s catchy and ear-pleasing soundtrack, emphasizing the light tone of the film. Donner simply created excellent entertainment set in the Wild West that stays with the audience after the screening and guarantees good humor for a long time. Moreover, at the end, there is a surprise for fans of the original TV series Maverick, showing how to revisit old hits. I will certainly come back to this title, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone.



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