Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story

| December 26, 2016

If you like westerns, this movie should have everything you’re looking for.  A grizzled hero with a tormented past, a plucky sidekick, gun fights, camping under the stars, horse-riding, blood, and sand.  I always resisted the western genre, but recently have come across many westerns that I thoroughly enjoy.  It turns out that I was a fan of the genre, but not a fan of John Wayne, which is an important distinction.

That being said, Stagecoach didn’t have much for me.  The story is about Nathaniel Reed (played by country singer Trace Adkins), who becomes an outlaw after he learns of his wife’s brutal murder.  Teaming up with Sid (Judd Nelson; The Breakfast Club), Reed adopts the name Texas Jack and the pair set off on a life of crime, robbing stagecoaches.

The movie had a really difficult time keeping my interest.  For one thing, I never believed that Reed’s wife (Michelle Harrison; CW’s The Flash) was actually dead and I couldn’t figure out why Reed believed it so easily either.  He simply hears about it after some gunfighters attack his home believing him to be someone else and Reed’s friend tells him he saw her dead, so he decides to become the criminal they thought he was.

From there, it’s just a series of robberies and trying to outrun the lawman who was responsible for his wife’s “death”.  Said lawman is Calhoun (Kim Coates; Battlefield Earth), who is your stock western bad guy who’s motivated by power and greed and evil for evil’s sake without any backstory to help us see things from his point of view.  We’re simply mean to hate him and side with Reed as he blurs the line between right and wrong.  So, if you like westerns, this movie probably doesn’t have anything you haven’t seen a million times.

It’s also difficult for me to get on board with Reed as our hero.  I think it’s because of Trace Adkins’ portrayal of the character.  He plays Reed as a sort of earnest Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski.  No quirks or emotions of any kind; just floating through life without having a clear want to pursue.  I wonder if a more charismatic actor would have better luck bringing some complexity to the character beyond what’s in the script, but if another film came along about Texas Jack, I’m not sure I would be interested in checking it out just because of the missteps in this film.

I will say that it is nice to see Judd Nelson still getting work and I always enjoy seeing him pop up in things even though most of what I see him in is not great.  The guy played one of the most iconic roles in cinema history and then has had an impossible time staying afloat since.  It’s a real shame and I hope he someday manages to break into some mainstream success.

Available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Cinedigm.

About the Author:

Joe Sanders Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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