Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story

Starring: Trace Adkins, Kim Coates, Judd Nelson

Director: Terry Miles
Released: 2016

Mood: If you just really need to see Judd Nelson in a Western.

Not going to mince words here – this movie is terrible. 

There’s a good chance that, like me, you’re only considering watching Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story because a younger version of yourself enjoyed The Breakfast Club and wants to know if the man who gave us John F*cking Bender can also do Westerns.

  • Fun Fact: Director Terry Miles also directed Dawn Rider, a movie I watched just to see if Christian Slater could do Westerns

Well, bad news. No one in this movie should be doing Westerns. I don’t want to tear into a Canadian movie, or Judd Nelson, but facts are facts… and also I lied, I actually do want to share every last one of my “tiny, angry asshole” opinions and tear a big, gaping hole in this movie that’s at least the size of the hour and 30 minutes it stole from my day. 

Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story is supposedly based on the life of outlaw Nathaniel “Texas Jack” Reed. He was born in 1862, so let’s say the movie takes place around 1900 (Trace Adkins is in his late 50s, so that date is generous).  

Like many other outlaws of his time, Reed’s adventures were largely exaggerated. He DID rob several trains, banks, and stagecoaches in his day, before being shot and giving up in exchange for a shorter sentence. He spent a good portion of his later years trying to get his story made into a movie. 

It’s a good thing he didn’t live long enough to see this abomination. Of all the things Reed did or supposedly did that could have made for a thrilling American Outlaws-type film, the writers decided to just make up a bunch of stupid shit!

Stagecoach is about the retired Nathaniel Reed (Trace Adkins) and his former colleagues Sid (Judd Nelson) and Frank (Claude Duhamel) on the run from a fictitious U.S. marshal. But the marshal (Kim Coates) is actually a bad guy with a sidekick named Bonnie (Helena Marie) whom he lets torture and kill people for fun. Reed’s storyline is predominantly about wanting kids, losing his wife, and going back to robbing for no clear reason.

illustration of a fancy moustache

The timeline bounces around in a way that’s both confusing and annoying. Reed’s wife (Michelle Harrison) is barely one week pregnant at the start of the movie, but has what appears to be a 5-year-old boy the next time she sees her husband and with no other indication in those middle scenes that years passed. 

The dialogue in this movie is REALLY F*CKING BAD. Many of the lines, particularly spoken by Calhoun and Sid, are so terrible that you can’t believe that a) this script was approved, and b) that real actors read it and then willingly signed on.

But then the acting is so bad that you realize these actors probably thought it was a good script. You get hopelessly unconvincing reactions to gunshots, unconvincing commitment to character, painfully forced emotion (Nelson), and faltering accents (also Nelson). 

illustration of a fancy moustache

I actually kind of like Trace Adkins and Claude Duhamel. Adkins has this unhurried manner that does suit Westerns, and he looks a lot like the real Nathaniel Reed. He just shouldn’t be a lead. Duhamel was well-suited to his role as well, and gave the best performance of the bunch. There was just nowhere for him to go in this dumpster fire.

Judd Nelson looks the part, which initially got my hopes up. But the more lines he had in a scene, the more painful it got. There’s a scene where he’s telling Reed that his wife is alive (even though he’d never met her, he somehow spotted her in town) and Nelson gets overly impassioned to the point where it’s unintentionally funny.

Apparently people really enjoy Kim Coates in his other roles, but his performance as Calhoun started out mediocre and ended up one of the most cringe-worthy. He may have chosen manic overacting to counter the general crappiness of the writing and story, who knows. 

Stagecoach doesn’t even score with the scenery. They filmed most of it in Mission, B.C., and all I can say is WHY?! There are so many lovely regions of B.C. and Alberta that are regularly used for Westerns, and you pick what looks like a sparse provincial park full of smooth ground and new growth that barely passes for a forest?

I was watching Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story on my lunch break, and it was so bad that I actually started doing work again. Like, I chose to do WORK over watching a Western.

It has a score of 34% on Rotten Tomatoes and 4.3/10 on IMDB, and I think both are too kind. 

Sorry, teenage me. I didn’t mean to rain on your crush. We’ll always have John Bender…