'The Jack Bull' Review: Never Give Up
The Jack Bull is a made for TV film made in 1999. As with most westerns made in the 90s, it went straight to the television and saw little, if any time on the silver screen. This is an honest to goodness travesty. It stars none other than John Cusack, L.Q. Jones, and John Goodman. It's low budget, and it got hardly any attention during it's marketing, but it's an interesting specimen of the western genre. I know I've said that for every movie I've watched this month, but it's been true for each and every one of them.
The Jack Bull follows the story of John Cusack as he portrays Myrl Redding, a horse trader in the Wyoming Territory. When a land baron forces Myrl in to a rough spot and then abuses his horses and ranch hand, he takes a stand, taking the law in to his own hands to get justice, since the local judge is in the pocket of the land baron and the baron's men end up hurting Myrl's wife. It's essentially The Punisher set in the wild west with the added benefit of having John Goodman on the cast. This is another western with a less than happy ending, and the plot is painful but resolute in it's commentary on the importance of a man's word and honor.
Unfortunately, with it's low budget and the intention of releasing it on television, the film had less attention then it deserved, both upon release and during it's production. A more purposeful hand from a DP, and a more delicate touch in it's shot composition might have elevated the film from good to amazing.
All things considered, The Jack Bull is an entertaining film and a great inclusion in to the genre of the western. It's got great performances, not only from it's lead cast but also from its supporting members such as John C. McGinley, Scott Wilson, and John Savage. It also has wildly impressive atmosphere and an intense plot. If you enjoy westerns as a genre, or John Cusack films in general, you'll enjoy The Jack Bull.
Final Say: Watch It