By: Reel 127 (Three Beers) –
Westerns use to be a staple of Hollywood. In the 1930s, plenty of Westerns were being released each year. Last year there were about eight major Western releases. I am always glad to see Westerns still being made despite current film trends. Westerns have managed to stay relevant by mixing other genres to create something new. Last year’s Bone Tomahawk was a stand out for being a Western horror film. Traded is a Western mystery where Clay searches for his missing daughter, Lily, pushing the limits of what is acceptable in the lawless West.
Plus, Kris Kristofferson has a good history with Westerns… right?
The mystery story being told is really well done. You gradually learn of a much larger network taking women, with Lily becoming the newest victim. The main Western theme explored is people’s history in the West. It makes some choices that deviate from the genre conventions. The hero, Clay, has a well-adjusted family life, though we find out he had a much rougher past. While most Westerns would have someone looking for the man with a history, he instead finds his past in Traded. It is refreshing to see it taken from a different angle.
The opening scene is the most problematic in this film. Clay’s family are all having dinner together before his son goes outside and is bitten by a rattlesnake. This has become a trope that is way too common in films. Every time I see a family that is happy to be together at the beginning of a movie I am immediately anticipating that someone is going to die. Traded was no exception. If the opening scene had been cut and the film began at the funeral for the son, it would have been a major improvement. We still would have what information we need for the rest of the story, but without the predictable starting point.
Unfortunately there were a few moments too corny to be forgiven. I can understand henchman needing to fight Clay to try to get rid of him, but it seemed like every several moments he was getting into another fight. One fight started just because he ran into a guy he had wronged in the past. Apart from giving us just a tiny bit of backstory for Clay, the fight had no significance. The villains also come off as pretty one dimensional. “Women get us money, money is good” is an easy way to sum up the motivations of those trying to stop Clay. I could probably forgive other elements if there had been a single well fleshed out villain.
“He is one cat away from being a Bond villain.”
Despite its flaws, Traded is a solid Western film. With a few touch ups this easily could have been the Western film of 2016. But considering the mediocre response to Westerns released so far this year, Traded has a good chance at being one of the top Westerns of the year. Anyone who enjoys the genre won’t be disappointed with this film.
Traded (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time someone pulls out a gun
Take a Drink: every time someone says “Chester Alan Arthur”
Take a Drink: whenever women are helpful to Clay because he is not a jerk
Do a Shot: when someone dies, as people tend to do in Westerns