It looks like a Western. It walks like a Western. It sure sounds like a Western. And it does enough in terms of sweat and spit, dust and dirt, gunsmoke and train steam to make it almost smell like a Western.

It was, of course, made right here by debuting director Mike Wallis and his leading lady-partner Inge Rademeyer, using the big sky country of Central Otago and the Mackenzie Country as its backdrop.

That canvas gets stretched wider with a John Psathas soundtrack - which leans towards Elmer Bernstein melodramatics with a touch of Ennio Morricone twang.

And it comes with a gripping lead performance by Cohen Holloway as taciturn villain of the piece, The Man, who kidnaps Rademeyer's gentile Englishwoman Isabella as she heads to an uncle's ranch somewhere near where the buffalo roam.


Unfortunately though, all that class is undercut by the movie's curious, dubious story which veers towards parody but makes it fall in a gap between affectionate homage and send-up.

The film revolves around The Man's erectile dysfunction. That means he can't have his way with his hostage.

So they gallop off into the southern landscape - hopefully bypassing Mt Difficulty - to find a cure. That leads to a body count, a posse, a chase, some shooting, and much ripping of Isabella's ever-shrinking petticoats for bandages.

The first doctor he sees tells him to lay off the whiskey, but one might soon wonder if all the time the movie spends in the saddle might be a contributing factor. It's a thin, languid story of minimal dialogue which seems a little spare in its narrative to fill a feature, though there sure is enough soundtrack to sustain this and a sequel besides.

Fortunately, Holloway's performance has a slow-burning energy and his character feels authentic, in a Sergio Leone, Spaghetti Western kind of way. Rademeyer's uneven performance isn't quite up to the task of making this a fair fight. But she looks the part, as does the wild bunch that go after the pair while delivering a comedy sideshow.

So Good For Nothing sure looks like the real deal, but its problem is its story runs out of ammo. Which isn't recommended in a film about a gunman shooting blanks.

Stars: 3/5
Cast: Cohen Holloway, Inge Rademeyer
Director: Mike Wallis
Rating: R13
Running time: 92 mins
Verdict: Once upon a time in the south