Tom Chaney, a hired hand, murders his employer, Ross, in cold blood. Ross' teenage daughter, Mattie, demands justice, but the sheriff tells her that Chaney has fled the state into the territory of the Native Americans, taking matters out of his hands. He casually suggest employing a federal marshal, and when Mattie asks him which one is the most vicious and mean, he immediately replies that Rooster Cogburn is the man she would look for. When she encounters Cogburn, Cogburn doesn't take her seriously until she presents his reward money to him in a shockingly professional manner for her young age. They come across a Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf, who also claims to be hunting down Chaney for a murder he committed in Texas. Cogburn agrees to work together with LaBoeuf, but Mattie is furious at this proposal: she wants her father's murderer tried and killed in their hometown, not in Texas. When Cogburn and LaBoeuf leave without her, she shows great resilience in catching up to them, impressing Cogburn. When Cogburn and LaBoeuf eventually go their separate ways due to getting on each other's nerves, Mattie becomes his sidekick in the hunt for Chaney. However, Mattie accidentally comes across Chaney one day, who kidnaps her. It's up to Mattie to stay out of the way when Cogburn comes to her rescue, and when both are badly injured during the final battle, it's a race against approaching death back to a doctor.
Best part of story, including ending:
It's a beautifully shot, beautifully written western, with a surprising amount of humor and boasting one of the best performances of Jeff Bridges' career.
Best scene in story:
The first time we see Cogburn, he is testifying in court why he murdered several people. He's obviously lying and obviously drunk, but he plays the room like a pro.
Opinion about the main character:
Mattie is one of the best teenage characters in modern cinema. She's smart, tough, and most importantly for young characters, doesn't yet know fully what she cannot do.