Sunset is a silly Hollywood fiction, unconvincing in all but a couple of its details. Premise of teaming up righteous cowboy star Tom Mix and real-life lawman Wyatt Earp to solve an actual murder case may have looked good on paper, but it plays neither amusingly nor excitingly.
Despite the tough guy charm he has exhibited elsewhere, Bruce Willis is one of the least likely choices imaginable to play Mix, perhaps the top Western star of the 1920s.
That’s just the beginning of the film’s lack of plausibility, even on its own terms. The notion of English, Chaplin-like former star (Malcolm McDowell) becoming the venal head of a studio bears no resemblance to anything that ever occurred in Hollywood while the idea of multiple murders taking place at the first Academy Awards ceremony is nasty and far-fetched.
Fortunately, there is James Garner as Earp as relief from all the nonsense around him. In fact, the man from Tombstone seems a little too sophisticated and at ease in Tinseltown, but the actor’s natural charm and fine sense of one-upmanship wins the day in virtually all his scenes.
1988: Nomination: Best Costume Design