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'Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford' Movie Review

About.com Rating 2 Star Rating


Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

© Warner Bros Pictures

The Bottom Line

The performances are fantastic and the production design and photography are just phenomenal. But the plot is so plodding and the timing is so laboriously slow that not even Brad Pitt playing with snakes and Casey Affleck playing a tortured soul involved in a twisted love/hate relationship with the notorious outlaw can salvage The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (henceforth referred to as AJJCRF in order to save myself from a carpal tunnel injury).

At the 60 minute mark, I found myself inwardly screaming at the screen, "Just kill him already!" At 90 minutes, I was willing to do the job myself.


  • Casey Affleck delivers one of the best performances of his career
  • And Brad Pitt's no slouch
  • The cinematography is beautiful
  • There are a few truly gorgeous scenes that crackle with life


  • Goes on and on and on and on…
  • It's not until the last half hour that things get interesting
  • Did I mention it goes on forever?


  • Starring Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Shepard, Sam Rockwell, Paul Schneider and Jeremy Renner
  • Directed by Andrew Dominik
  • Rated R for some strong violence and brief sexual references

Guide Review - 'Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford' Movie Review

The Story

The title tells the story. Robert Ford (Affleck) shoots Jesse James (Pitt), but only after two hours of fiddling around do we get to see the actual hit go down. In the meantime, AJJCRF slowly follows the waning days in the criminal career of the outlaw Jesse James.

As Jesse slides into a paranoid state of mind, his ragtag gang of killers and thieves go their own way. But one strange character, Robert Ford, has this bizarre fascination with the man and won't let go of the idea of being Jesse's closest confidant. Nowadays he'd be labeled a stalker and a restraining order would be slapped on him before he had the chance to do real damage. However Jesse James didn't come to view Ford as a threat until it was too late. Before Ford does the deed, Jesse put up with the hero worship and even encouraged it.

To Sum It Up

AJJCRF earns a few points by not glamorizing Jesse James and instead showing him as a merciless, cold-blooded killer. Additional points are rewarded for packing the cast with a batch of supporting players - Sam Shepard, Sam Rockwell and Paul Schneider, most notably - who spice up the pic in scattered appearances throughout the film.

If you make it past the first two hours or so, things perk up after Jesse's dead. That's when Affleck and Rockwell take over and things get intense and interesting. Unfortunately, there's a lot of unfulfilling stuffing to sit through before you get to the meat of the film. Whether or not you can endure the fluff to get to the good stuff depends on your level of patience. It's a tiring, trying task to make it to the end of AJJCRF and one barely worth the effort.


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