Don't use the excuse that you're not a fan of cowboys. Don't say the Coen brothers don't usually float your boat. And especially don't avoid 'True Grit' because you weren't a huge fan of the 1969 John Wayne-starring original. This is far too good a movie to miss for any of those reasons.

Mattie Ross (Steinfeld) is a young lady on a mission. She plans to avenge the murder of her father by any means necessary - anyone who looks at her and thinks that she's just a kid with a quick tongue would be very much mistaken.

Settled on her course of action, Mattie hires the services of US Marshall Reuben J 'Rooster' Cogburn (Bridges). Bad-tempered, fond of the bottle and quick to draw his gun, Cogburn is the kind of man you wouldn't want your 14-year-old daughter hanging about with, but Mattie doesn't trust him to stay on the straight-and-narrow and bring her father's killer back to face justice. She insists that she must accompany him on his trek into Indian country, on the hunt for hired-hand Tom Chaney (Brolin), the man who killed her father.

But Chaney has a bit of reputation and it turns out that they aren't the only ones searching for him. Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Damon) is also keen to secure the price-tag on Chaney's head and isn't pleased when his plans to apprehend the criminal don't fit in with Mattie's idea of justice. The three fall in and out of company and companionship as they journey far into Indian territory, setting traps for Chaney and defending themselves and each other.

Newcomer Hailee Steinfeld will make you marvel at her command of the screen here. Gutsy and engaging, she really captures the fearless yet often vulnerable young lady who wants to play with the big boys. Bridges is, as expected, terrific as the battle-weary gunslinger who discovers that he may have a heart after all. Charismatic in a way that seems impossible for his character, he gives this performance his all. Damon is perhaps the biggest surprise here, proving that a great character is all he needs to excel, while Brolin seems to do what he does best effortlessly.

The Coen brothers' screenplay is what makes this movie so captivating. The lines are genius and are delivered with perfect comic timing by all concerned. 'True Grit' has high-drama, shoot-outs, emotion and a wicked sense of humour. The movie is also shot magnificently, really capturing the feel of each scene.

Even if Westerns aren't usually your genre of choice, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the cleverness and wit of this one.

Linda McGee