Maverick (1994) isn’t a perfect film, but it has all the traits of a summer movie: It features great action sequence, some humor, a good performance from the cast, and a script that does not ask for too much in the way of mental engagement.
It’s the closest to a comeback as it gets for the west during that time, after some quiet with no western movies in production. When things go back on track, we started seeing the likes of Dance with the Wolves, Unforgotten, and then the western movies scene dropped the Maverick (1994), a pioneering humorous, family-centered movie that had ever been made in a while. Perhaps its greatest selling point is that it’s pointless to try and justify why it was made.
The film gets its inspiration from a 1950 Series featuring James Garner, the character with a preference for conning people rather than kill them. He transitioned into the movie version, Maverick, where he plays the role of Zane Cooper, while Mel Gibson plays Bret Maverick.
It’s amazing how Gibson can star alongside the person who originated his role and achieve a similar feat as a character whose greatest hope is to cash in from poker and still ensure that he does not get killed while at it. It’s uncanny how their sideburns makes one thing that they are relations of some sort. Also starring in the film is Jodie Foster, who plays Annabelle Bransford, an attractive poker player.
The film starts with Maverick trying hard to cash in some $5000 that he hopes to use to enter the World Series poker that will be convened in St. Louis. Unfortunately, winning is a huge challenge because he is constantly battling skilled poker players, the likes of Angel (played by Alfred Molina) whose fixation is to shoot anyone who wins, chief Joseph (played by Graham Greene), a chap of Indian origin looking to pursue public relations as a career, and Commodore, the chap who has been in the coning businesses longer than anyone else.
William Goldman and Richard Donner do a great job populating the film’s background with unbilled cameos and the roles and played by stars that he has worked within other films including Margot Kidder and Danny Glover who stared in Superman and lethal weapon respectively.
Unlike vintage films, Maverick stages its stunts in a much more elaborate manner. There are plenty of stunts, including an out-of-control stagecoach scene where Gibson managed to get to the front and bring things under control. There’s also a first draw scene involving a young gunfighter that was developed to the point it generates suspense akin to that seen in Tombstone.
All praises aside, an important point to consider is whether there are people out there who remember this film. Well, you don’t need to be a fan of the previous series to enjoy Maverick (1994), but there’s a nice twist as the movie ends that would make more sense to the audience if they had watched the series.