When it comes to the darkly comic revenge western “Sweetwater,” it’s hard to tell if the Miller brothers — Logan (who directed) and Noah (who co-wrote with Logan) — are fans of such pictures or just their more parody-ready elements.
Another bro duo once flirted with genre insincerity too, but where Joel and Ethan Coen mastered storytelling and character eccentricity, the Millers offer up a grim, wearying jumble of tones. January Jones adapts her “Mad Men” steeliness to play prostitute-turned-frontier-wife Sarah, who suffers mightily at the hands of landowning, power-hungry Prophet Josiah (Jason Isaacs), a religious zealot who shows little mercy toward those who won’t do his bidding. Dancing on the margins — literally, at times — is Ed Harris as a spiffily attired oddball of a sheriff who has his eye on Josiah for a crime he’s investigating.
As violent act begets silly exchange begets another violent act, “Sweetwater” squanders its noteworthy resources — a cast enjoying themselves (especially Isaacs and Harris), and some effectively brooding outdoor cinematography — so that the Millers can one-up themselves with hot-cha B-movie “moments.” It leaves the final act’s avenging-angel bloodbath feeling like a slow, predictable air leak.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong violence, language, some sexual content and graphic nudity
Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Playing: At TCL Chinese 6, Hollywood. Also on VOD.