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Review: Western 'Big Kill' caught between spoof and tribute

Review: Western 'Big Kill' caught between spoof and tribute
Cristoph Sanders in the movie "Big Kill." (Archstone)

The premise for “Big Kill” — a pair of gamblers, a timid accountant and a corrupt preacher walk into a bar — admittedly sounds like the set-up for an old joke with a payoff that would have likely been more amusing than writer-director Scott Martin’s labored spoof of Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns.

Tired of people always running them out of town, the rogues in question, Jake (filmmaker Martin) and the womanizing Travis (Clint Hummel), are more than happy to oblige when Jim (Christoph Sanders), a greenhorn from Philadelphia, is looking for a guide to escort him from Mexico to Big Kill, an Arizona mining town where his brother operates the Easy Lady saloon.

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While there’s initially no sign of Jim’s brother, they do encounter a decidedly sinister Preacher (Jason Patric) and a flashy local legend named Johnny Kane (Lou Diamond Phillips), who, along with the lesser-seen Danny Trejo and Michael Pare, have been corralled to lend the production some tough hombre cred.

Problem is, filmmaker Martin can’t seem to decide whether he’s making a tribute or a send-up, and the overlong, yet under-plotted, results, with awkward close-ups and prolonged, flatly delivered exchanges, take their toll.

Those timeless New Mexico backdrops may lend the production its desired authenticity, but all those structural wide-open spaces stop “Big Kill” dead in its tedious tracks.

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‘Big Kill’

Rated: R, for violence, some sexuality and brief language

Running time: 2 hours, 8 minutes

Playing: Starts Oct. 19, AMC Universal Citywalk, Universal City

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