A tale of two brothers (Chris Marquette, Anton Yelchin) ripped apart by circumstances and then brought together only to face an enemy (Vincent D’Onofrio), who will stop at nothing to break their bond.
Loosely based on Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s original Parinda, Broken Horses reprises the story in the desert lands of the US-Mexico border. So we have a true-blue Hollywood film directed by a true-blue Bollywood director, and barring a few like Shekhar Kapur, this feat is as rare as it gets. And to be fair, there are some things to appreciate here. The performances are impressive and so is the cinematography. The movie does not fail due to the want of acting chops or production quality. What it lacks is plain, strong storytelling.
Broken Horses had all the makings of a strong, moody tale with sparse characters and dusty landscapes of a Western. It could have even aimed somewhere between Unforgiven and A History Of Violence but unfortunately ends up way off-the-mark. The tension and mood that Chopra tries to build could have worked well had it not been for the predictable turn of events and all too familiar tropes of brotherly sagas. Eventually, the plot just doesn’t have enough conflicts and the story is much better suited for a TV movie or a 40 minute episode rather than a 2 hour movie. Consequently, the events seem stretched and apart from the intended ones, boredom is one of the major emotions you’ll feel undergoing this ordeal. The melodrama doesn’t help either. Chris Marquette has the most to do but he overplays the slow-brained older brother. Anton Yelchin is controlled, but it’s Vincent D’Onofrio as Julius Hench who makes the movie watchable with his menacing demeanor. His overbearing persona is pitch-perfect and his performance alone deserved a better movie.
The cinematography by the brilliant Tom Stern (long time Clint Eastwood collaborator) is the other aspect of the movie that lands it above the usual fare. But finally, the film reaffirms that content is king and the lack of it is telling in Broken Horses.
English, Action, Drama, Color