Trace Adkins looms large as a dastardly character in this edgy drama co-starring Michael Pare and Kris Kristofferson.
Editor's Note: Throughout March and April, we’re celebrating Great Westerns of the 21st Century — noteworthy movies and TV series with special appeal to C&I readers that have premiered since 2001. Check the Entertainment tab Monday through Friday to see a different recommendation by C&I senior writer Joe Leydon. And be on the lookout for our upcoming May/June 2020 print edition, which prominently features the legendary star who looms large in two of this century’s very best westerns.
Country music star Trace Adkins is by no means the star of Traded — indeed, he’s barely around for a quarter of the movie — but he makes every minute count, and steals every scene that isn’t bolted to the floor, during his limited screen time in the gritty 2016 western directed by Timothy Woodward Jr. (Hickok, The Outsider) that's now available for streaming on Amazon Prime, VUDU.com and other platforms.
Michael Pare plays the hero of the piece, Clay Travis, a gunfighter-turned-homesteader whose teen-age daughter, Lily (Brittany Williams), runs away from home after a traumatizing family tragedy. Travis duly follows her trail, and winds up in Wichita, where his worst fears are realized: Lily has been dragooned into white slavery, and sold to the highest bidder by Ty Stover (Adkins), a bordello owner who runs his establishment with a whim of iron.
Traded is one of several 21st Century Westerns — including Wyatt Earp’s Revenge, a 2014 remake of The Virginian (in which he played the title role), Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story and, most recently, Badland — that have given Adkins a chance to cowboy up on camera. And while music remains his primary profession, the Grammy-winning Grand Ole Opry inductee enjoys getting back in the saddle now and then as part of his part-time acting career.
“It just seems to be that's in my wheelhouse,” Adkins said during a 2016 chat with C&I. “Quite frankly, I think they just put me in these movies because I know how to ride.”
Ironically, Adkins spends most of time behind a desk, rather than on a horse, in Traded. But he makes an indelible impact as a slow-talking, quick-shooting tough guy who demands polite behavior from his clientele — as he tells a brutal rowdy just before blasting him, “We don’t abide ill manners in this establishment!” — and must be coaxed with enhanced interrogation techniques before he tells Travis anything about his missing daughter.
“Yeah, he’s a bad guy,” Adkins noted with a rumbling chuckle. “Just incorrigible.” Playing such a character, he added, “is just a muscle I get to flex, and I enjoy it. I don’t get to do this when I’m singing.”
Another noted singer-actor, Kris Kristofferson, appears in Traded as a grizzled bartender and straight shooter who comes to the aid of Travis during the climactic shootout. Unfortunately, Adkins said, “I had no scenes with Kris in this movie. The weird thing is, I took the movie because I wanted to work with him. But I’m glad I did it anyway.”
What’s the biggest satisfaction Adkins gets from his movie work?
“The only satisfaction I get from it is when the director pats you on the back and says, ‘Good scene.’ That's about it.”
It’s probably safe to assume Trace Adkins got an especially hearty backslap after completing this tense scene with Michael Pare.