In the mid 1990's, the fad of creating full-length movies of classic television shows was in full swing. Sadly, the trend produced a number of major duds that included films such as Car 54 Where Are You. When it was announced that Maverick was going to be made into a full-length film, one starring Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson, many were concerned that the franchise would be ruined. However, what was released was actually a great movie that was a great tribute to a classic western.
Maverick (1994) stars Mel Gibson in the title role of Bret Maverick, gentleman gambler and con artist. Maverick is seeking to find his place in the world as a card player and looking to prove that he is the greatest poker player of all time. To do so, Maverick will enter a poker tournament on a paddle steamboat that will award a prize of $500,000 to the winner. The problem is that Maverick is short of the $25,000 needed to enter and he begins a series of misadventures to gain his stake.
During his travels, he meets Annabelle Bransford, played by Jody Foster. Bransford is a female poker player and just as clever as Maverick. In a nod to the classic western, James Garner, who played Bret in the classic series, is cast in the role of Marshal Zane Cooper.
After a series of misadventures, the three reach the massive five card draw poker tournament and Maverick begins his quest for glory. We won't tell you what happens from here, but suffice it to say that things do not turn out like you expect. One of the strong points of Maverick is both the clever writing and the overall attention to detail. If you pay close attention, you will notice a lot of classic western characters and characters from 70's and 80's TV during the film. In addition, there is a classic scene with Danny Glover that gives a nod to the Lethal Weapon franchise.
While Maverick is based on the classic movie, the movie will actually stand on its own. That is one reason why the film drew over $183 Million worldwide and is the 5th highest all-time grossing Western film in North America. As Roger Ebert said of the film, "it doesn't feel the need to justify its existence." If you have never checked out the film, you are missing out on an enjoyable comedy that pays tribute to a great TV series.