True Grit (2010)

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The movie starts with exposition about how Chaney killed Mattie's father, stole his hold and money, and fled. Mattie wants justice, but no one seems to care.

She goes to collect her father's body from another town. While there, she takes care of some of her father's left-over business to get some money. With the money, she hires Marshall Cogburn to help her track Chaney the unsettled territory. Ranger LaBoeuf is also searching for Chaney to bring him back to Texas for a bounty. Mattie wants to bring Chaney back to Arkansas to hang for killing her father.

They travel together into the wild. There's a lot of arguing over who should get claim over Chaney. Eventually, LaBoeuf splits off the group.

Cogburn and Mattie find a building at a crossroads. Two children are teasing a horse, so Cogburn cuts the horse loose and hits the children. After discovering that Chaney has been there, they continue north.

They find a dead man hanging in a tree. They cut him down, find that it isn't Chaney, and continue traveling. Later, they believe someone is following them. They wait, expecting LaBoeuf. A different man shows up instead, claiming to be a doctor. He has taken the teeth from the corpse and is now carrying the corpse with him for trade. Cogburn asks about nearby shelters to escape the snow. The man tells Cogburn and Mattie of a nearby shelter.

They discover two people are already in the shelter. They find out these people are part of Lucky Ned's gang, the same gang Chaney is part of. They gang members say that the rest of the gang is on their way to the shelter. Cogburn kills the men and gets into a sniping position outside.

LaBoeuf then shows up at the shelter. Before Mattie can warn him, the gang appears. There are four gang members, including Lucky Ned and Tom Chaney. LaBoeuf refuses to back down, and a gunfight ensues. Cogburn snipes from above, killing both unnamed gang members. LaBoeuf is injured.

Cogburn knows of a closed silver mine where Lucky Ned's gang is probably hiding. The three travel together while Cogburn keeps himself drunk on whiskey they found in the shelter.

After waiting a while, the group decides that they've guessed wrong; now the trail has gone cold. The men ignore Mattie's pleas and give up on searching. LaBoeuf leaves.

The next day, Mattie goes down to the nearby stream to fetch water. She see's Chaney on the other side. He dares her to shoot him. She does, surprising him. He and his gang grab her and tell the Marshall to leave else she dies. He obliges.

Ned says that they will continue on and, because they are short on mounts, will send back a horse to collect Chaney, leaving Chaney with Mattie. Chaney realizes that the only way he could go to prison is through Mattie's word, so he goes to slit her throat. LaBoeuf appears and knocks Chaney out just in time.

LaBoeuf explains that he and Cogburn have a plan, and Cogburn meets the gang in a valley. LaBoeuf sets up to snipe. A fight breaks outs, and the gang is killed. As they are about to celebrate, Chaney appears and knocks LaBoeuf out. Mattie grabs LaBoeuf's rifle and shoots Chaney in the chest, sending him off the cliff. The recoil throughs Mattie into a steep cave.

Mattie is stuck. Cogburn finds her and descends into the cave to rescue her. Her hand is bitten by a snake. Her sucks the poison out, grabs a rope, and is pulled up by LaBoeuf. Cogburn tells LaBoeuf that he will rush Mattie to the nearest town to get her medical attention.

Cogburn mounts Mattie's pony with Mattie and ride for town. The pony becomes played out, but Cogburn stabs the pony's butt to get it to push on. Later, it collapses from exhaustion. Cogburn kills the pony, picks up Mattie, and continues to march to town.

In the epilogue Mattie exposits that she was brought to a doctor just in time. Her arm had to be amputate, though. In spite of her efforts she never saw Cogburn again. He died right three days before she was able to see him at a fair 25 years in the future.


Mattie loves bringing up her lawyer. Even when in confrontation with Chaney near the end of the movie, she mentions that the murderer can't legally hurt her. This isn't a bad character trait because she is 14 and thinks more like a protected child than a kidnapped person in uncharted territory. I just think that the movie overuses the lawyer bit as if it was Mattie's only character trait.

Although told from Mattie's point of view, this movie is about Cogburn. He passes time on the trail telling Mattie stories about his adventures. Although LaBoeuf's character is fleshed out, LaBoeuf seems like he is there to foil Cogburn and help reveal more of Cogburn's character.

This movie was adapted from an older book, and I think that shows in the dialog. The cast uses flowery words and barely ever uses a contraction. This is stereotypical of Southerners in classic American fiction.

Although I haven't read it, I also think that the novel is probably better than the movie. It feels like the movie left out a lot of details about Cogburn to fit the story into a movie format. Because the story to basically just developing Cogburn's character through interaction, the movie lacks somewhat. What's left is a run of the mill "You shot my Pa" storyline with a few random encounters and a lucky search party.

I can see the story of True Grit being more suited to a play than a movie. Although not bad, it's not good either. Although this is another collaboration between the Coen Brothers and Jeff Bridges, not every movie can be the Big Lebowski.

Final Verdict - 3/5