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A Texas Ranger investigates a series of unexplained deaths in a town called Helena.

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The Duel movie full length review - Harrelson and Hemsworth Are Both Excellent in Psycho-Western

On the surface, "The Duel" is a classical western in the style of "High Noon." But the main interest in not the traditional melodrama of hero and villain. Rather, it is a subtle psychological drama that explores deeper personal values in the two leading characters.

Woody Harrelson is good as a character known as "The Preacher." He is a megalomaniac who has exerted his charisma and total control over a small town in Texas in the post-Civil War years. The traditional "stranger" who rides into town is a Texas Ranger, and the role is given a fine, understated performance by Liam Hemsworth.

The twist on this familiar plot is that the Texas Ranger is on a secret mission to spy on The Preacher, who has been wantonly killing Mexicans who have crossed over the border. But Hemsworth's character David has a second interest in The Preacher, who killed his father two decades earlier.

The film is effective in offering some depth to David's motives. Is he a dedicated Texas Ranger performing his job, or is his true motivation to revenge his father's death? The film never completely answers that question, but leaves it to the viewer to decide.

But there are other loose ends in the film that are both unresolved and confusing. The depiction of David's marriage to his wife Marisol is never fully developed in the film. Marisol was wedded to David without her consent when her father's life was saved by David. At the beginning, it appears as though they have a happy marriage. But the transformation of Marisol, who is won over to the side of The Preacher, seemed strained and unconvincing. And the film never even bothered to wrap up the narrative by informing the audience of what happened to Marisol!

Obviously, "The Duel" is not a perfect film. The historical backdrop of the development of Texas in the mid-nineteenth century was also superficial. It was almost as if the film could have been set in any historical period with a different set of costumes. Still, it is worth seeing for the excellent work in cinematography and the two fine performances of Harrelson and Hemsworth.