By the early 1990′s, the American Western was all but considered a dead genre in film. Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven was considered by many to be the last great western and somewhat of a farewell to the genre. When Maverick (1994) was produced, many believed the classic TV western remake would do poorly. What resulted was one of the highest grossing westerns in history.
Maverick is a western comedy starring Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, and James Garner. For this film, Gibson is the iconic western figure Maverick. Maverick is a con artist and poker player who is trying to show that he has a gift for the game.
Foster plays Annabelle Bransford, a female card player who is trying to prove that she is just as capable as any male both in cards and in life. Garner plays Marshal Zane Cooper. Not much is known about Cooper except he has spent his life in law enforcement.
Maverick and Annabelle are introduced in the opening scenes in a saloon poker game. Maverick gets to show off both his card playing ability as well as his ability as a fighter and gunfighter. Bransford seems impressed and as the game goes on, Maverick is the clear winner in the game.
We later find out that Maverick is actually not that great of a fighter and the fight in the opening scenes was staged and his opponents took a fall. Also, we find out that Maverick can draw fast, but isn’t a very good shot. At least that is his claim. We also discover that Bransford is cunning in her own right and nearly swindles Maverick out of his cash.
Maverick and Bransford are heading to a major five card poker tournament being held on a riverboat. The prize for the winner will be $500,000 and players from all around the world will be attending. It costs $25,000 to enter the game and both are still in the need of their buy-in.
Marshall Cooper is introduced into the film as Maverick and Bransford are about to get on their stage. The two are arguing and Cooper steps in to calm the situation. Maverick immediately becomes suspicious of Cooper, but reluctantly accepts him as a traveling companion.
The three set out on a series of misadventures on their way to the poker tournament. This includes surviving “wild Indians”, Maverick being captured, and his outsmarting a Russian Grand Duke. While all this is going on, a subplot unfolds and viewers discover some elements do not want Maverick in the big game.
Maverick does indeed make the big game and even makes the final table of the game. However, we will not spoil what happens from that point. What we will tell you is that things do not turn out as you would think they would. In addition, there will be a couple of twists towards the end that you might not see coming, as well as one that will make sense once it happens.
You do not have to be a fan of the classic TV show in order to watch this movie. In fact, the movie is so well written that you could have never even heard of Maverick and still enjoy the film.
Maverick ended up being a box office smash as the film grossed over $183 Million worldwide and is still the 5th highest grossing western in North American history. The film came out during a time when the American western was considered to be a dying genre of film. Maverick proved that if done correctly, there is still plenty of kick left in the old horse.
*Aside from being a movie buff at night, James Guill is an editor working with SlopeInteractive. He is also a writer for several gaming sites such as PokerListings.com.