Maverick could easily be described by one of the many climaxes the movie sees. There are three men left at a poker table, and a moment of possible magic occurs. Bret Maverick (Mel Gibson) doesn’t even look at his final card, but is still convinced he has what it takes to win the prize. Of course, all three of the men put everything all in on the three most amazing hands to come from one deal. This right here, although later in the movie, is a great example of what this early 90’s gem is all about.
Even though the themes in Maverick are centerd around what I mention above, the plot is more about the journey to the poker table, as well as the journey afterwards. See, Bret Maverick knew he could win if he could just make it to the tournament, but he’s a few thousand dollars short and a few days away. Luckily he runs into Annabelle Bransford (Jodie Foster), even though he doesn’t realize it's lucky at first. Soon enough though he finds himself alongside Annabelle as well as Marshal Cooper (James Garner) on a buggy wandering through Indian Country scamming everybody they come across as well as each other. Eventually they reach the tournament and, well, I think I already divulged a little of what happens there. After that, it’s more shenanigans. Yep, shenanigans.
Maverick is just a fun movie that never really takes itself too serious. The plot isn’t all that great, in fact many might consider it a bit weak. The flow of the movie is inconsistent and it acts as if it will be over on about four different occasions. But the filmmakers knew what they were doing, as Richard Donner (not that Richard Donner) directs it wonderfully and gets the best result he can with a light hearted, comedic western during a time when westerns were action packed and as serious as erectile disfunction.
Mel Gibson as Maverick is somewhat similar to his other dark comedy roles. He feels awkwardly close to his ant-hero in Payback or even Riggs from the Lethal Weapons. However it works in Maverick, so that even though it isn’t radically different it is more than entertaining. Bret is a bit comical but also masterful and mischievous. The mad, crazy nut we all know now reminds me of why he was adored in the 90’s. The real winner in this cast is Jodie Foster. Sure she’s had bigger roles in her career but her portrayal of a scamming belle who portrays innocence very well is the best performance in the movie. James Garner, Alfred Molina, and Graham Greene all compliment the stars nicely too. Even James Coburn has a great and convincing performance towards the climax of the movie.
I feel what makes Maverick an even more irresistible gem is how not serious it is, both scripted and unscripted. There are moments throughout that seem as if they were accidental and the cast and crew were like, “screw it; next!” Guns falling to the ground, awkward encounters, a chair sticking to a dealers backend, and even a head against a window in an inconspicuous scene make it hard to believe that some of these comical moments were scripted. And although they don’t seem scripted they still work, as they don’t impede the flow of the plot and add to a somewhat over the top movie.
I’ve been using the excuse of nostalgia a lot lately, but that's because I’m picking up movies that take me back. Maverick is right there with the others as it evokes a memory of childhood and really takes me back to a time when Mel Gibson was still cool. It is a good movie though; good natured and fun at its core. Maverick is a movie that many can enjoy even if it is many years later.
I’m a day late, but thankfully not a dollar short to the Maverick review party. Over the past year there hasn’t been too much love for the Maverick Blu-ray presentation and I’m not sure why. Maverick comes to Blu-ray via an AVC 1080p encode that has some great moments, but mostly good ones.
The video is sharp throughout, boasting plenty of detail. Many of the scenes take place in a rustic dessert sequence that can occasionally wash out some of the details in the background. But characters look great with detailed hair, wonderful costumes and even some noticeable make-up. The image is back and forth on the three-dimensional look. Some scenes compare to a new release while others show how this as an early 90’s film. Color is probably why there are many negative feelings towards this transfer, as there are times where it seems off. Flesh tones can look great in one scene and then all it takes is a trip to another poker table and tones appear washed out. However with the consistent grain and lack of dirt and other distractions, Maverick offers more good than bad with its video transfer.
Maverick’s DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo track on the other hand does nothing to impress. It isn’t bad, and proves to be an upgrade compared to the family VHS of my childhood, but overall I’m not impressed. The audio, first off, shouldn’t be a stereo track. Where’s the surround sound? This is a lossless Blu-ray track why don’t we make use of all five speakers? The audio we are dealt with does sound good for about the first three quarters of the movie. Music sounds great, staying in the background although everything is coming across two speakers. Dialogue takes center stage and all conversations are clear. Sound effects can be hit or miss though, but for the most part accurately depict what is on the screen. The big issue comes shhortly after the climax of the movie when we are dealt a bad hand as the dialogue seems to echo down an imaginary tunnel and even has a brief moment of lip syncing issues. It takes a moment before it can recover and never comes back to sounding like a Blu-ray audio track. At its best, Maverick’s audio doesn’t wow and at its worse it makes one long for the lossy VHS track.
It is a bargain title, and it is an older release so don’t expect too much in terms of extra features on board Maverick. There are a few interesting things, most notably The Music Video for Amazing Grace (SD) that features country artists like Clint Black amongst others. A Pictorial History of the Makin’ of the Movie Maverick (SD) is a lengthy making of featurette that captures the spirit of the movie itself (meaning it doesn’t take itself to serious). Finally you get the Maverick Theatrical Trailer (SD) which is also only in standard definition.
Maverick is a good Blu-ray if you know what you are getting into. It’s a bargain price and has been since release so the less than perfect video and somewhat disappointing audio shouldn’t be too hard to swallow for fans. If you are a fan you probably already have Maverick on Blu-ray, if you are interested in seeing what the fuss is about I recommend at least giving it a chance.