There's no question Appaloosa is a Western. It's set in 1882 in the New Mexico Territory, it has tin-star-wearing city marshals getting into gunfights with ornery cusses, it includes some scenes involving problems with Indians -- the whole nine yards. But underneath all that, it's really just a buddy movie, a rough-and-tumble, no-girls-allowed, steak-and-potatoes romp that happens to be set in the Old West. It's as much Don Quixote and Sancho Panza as it is Butch and Sundance.
The buddies are Virgil Cole (Ed Harris, who also directed) and his sidekick, Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen), an inseparable pair of freelance peacekeepers and expert gunmen. At the film's outset, they are hired by the dusty frontier town of the title to protect it from Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons), a devious rancher whose band of ne'er-do-wells occasionally murders local citizens, including the previous city marshal. With Cole as the new marshal and Hitch as his deputy, the two set about enforcing law and order.
One of the town's new ordinances, under Cole's direction, is that you can't bring guns inside the city boundaries. He informs a couple of Bragg's men of this when they show up at the saloon one day.
"That's the law," Cole says.
"Your law," replies one of the men, scoffing.
"Same thing," Cole says. OH SNAP!