The Warrant: Breaker’s Law (2023) Review
Set in 1872, three years after the original film, The Warrant: Breaker’s Law opens with the army, and most of the town’s population leaving Absolum’s Hill. The military had been there to protect the town from outlaws, but as their commander Colonel Dredge (Nick Searcy, The Old Way, Terror on the Prairie) tells Judge Thaddeus (Bruce Boxleitner, Tron, Babylon 5) between swigs from his hip flask “Orders done got changed”.
That night Yule Bronson (Dermot Mulroney, Section 8, Insidious: Chapter 3) and a couple of his men ride into town fixin’ to get the gold in the bank run by Thaddeus’ daughter Charlotte (Amy Hargreaves, Blue Ruin, Hungry Dog Blues) but they along with Chuck (Lou Beatty Jr., Fast & Furious, Tales from the Hood 2) force them to leave empty handed.
Meanwhile, over in Johnson City Marshall John Breaker (Neal McDonough, There Are No Saints, Bad Country) and his Deputy, Bugle Bearclaw (Gregory Cruz, Cobra, Velvet Buzzsaw) are delivering a prisoner, Henry “Dead Eye” Bronson (Dermot Mulroney). Not trusting Colonel Dredge they decide to take him to the Marshall in Absolum’s Hill themselves.
Director Brent Christy (County Line: No Fear, The Legend of 5 Mile Cave) and writer Shea Sizemore (Heritage Falls, Legal Action) reprise their roles from The Warrant, which I haven’t seen, and craft a stand-alone sequel with an interesting web of interconnected characters. There’s the less than brotherly relationship between the Bronson twins, and as it turns out, Breaker has a history with the judge and his daughter. History that includes giving Thaddeus the scar on his face.
Once they arrive in Absolum’s Hill however those connections turn out to be a bit less interesting than I was hoping for. In the case of Breaker, Thaddeus, and Charlotte it’s the kind of unbelievable coincidence that has unfortunately become a cliche in films like this. It’s well past its expiration date and probably was even in stories written in 1872.
Thankfully they do keep The Warrant: Breaker’s Law punctuated with gunfights to keep the viewer from dwelling on this. Yule seems to have plenty of men which, given their habit of stepping into the open at the wrong time and general incompetence, one sets himself on fire trying to burn our heroes out, is a lucky thing for him. Despite that, the action is above average for a lower budget Western.
Another thing the film has in its favour, the filmmakers found a setting that looks weathered and lived in rather than the picture perfect, museum like tourist traps used in so many Westerns. The weathered exteriors and missing boards alone do a lot to help make the story feel believable.
Also quite believable are the performances by the cast. In the title role, McDonough does a good job of visually channelling Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name, as he grimly stares into the desert or scans the streets of the deserted town. Unfortunately, the script ruins the effect by giving him way too much dialogue, much of it speechifying about right and wrong, family, and the cost of doing the right thing.
And he’s not the only one that gets to sermonize. Yes, traditional Westerns tend to have something to say on those subjects, but The Warrant: Breaker’s Law gets exceptionally heavy-handed about it at times. But, if you can deal with that and a few cliches, The Warrant: Breaker’s Law is an enjoyable horse opera that makes the most of its small budget and cast to deliver a passable way to kill ninety minutes.