Broken Horses (2015)

Director: Vidhu Vinod Chopra
Starring: Vincent D’Onofrio, Anton Yelchin, Chris Marquette, María Valverde, Thomas Jane .USA. 1h 41m

A charming American Western style thriller centring around two brothers and the ties that bind them, Chopra has adapted 1980s Hindi movie for the American audience but it only vaguely translates for the different culture and atmosphere overall, the true sentiment of the movie really works however from time to time it just seems too melodramatic, something that would definitely work in the Bollywood industry but seems a bit too over the top for what could be a really violent thriller.

Starting out with the hope that Thomas Jane might make his first western-style epic I begrudgingly find him dead by brutal headshot within the first few minutes and that the film is actually set up around his two sons. The elder son is kindly known as Buddy, and described as slow, sadly he’s incredibly vulnerable but is unfortunately a live witness to his father’s death but does what he can in the hopes of looking after his younger brother. Sadly he manages to get coerced into becoming a hitman for a violent gang, making his first kill while still at school age, in the naive belief that he was avenging his father’s death, unwittingly he’s become a pawn for the incredibly sadistic Julius Hench (D’Onofrio) who realises that the kid is unwavering in his approach and with a few powerful words he can wind him up and set him on anyone, the perfect unthinking assassin.

Jumping forward a few years when the boys are much older, the youngest son , Jacob (Yelchin) has moved to another city to play violin for an orchestra, upon announcing his engagement he insists on heading home to catch up with his brother to prepare him for being his best man.

When Jacob is introduced back into his old town he’s overwhelmed to find so much has changes, the cracker being that his brother is an active part of this this organised gang and is unable to see any issues with his so-called friends however Jacob’s absence hasn’t soften the bond between the brothers and he’s determined to get his brother out of his soulless gang of misfits and deranged killers. Jacob is soon at loggerheads with the leader of the gang, Julius, as he realises his best killing machine is about to be whisked away and starts his own deadly hate campaign. Despite the dusty setting there is a foreboding dread throughout the movie, most of it comes from the sizable character that D’onofrio plays, he has that uber sinister way of creeping up on characters, blending the intense Goren character from Law and Order CI and a touch of his way out druggy psycho role in Salton Sea (2002).

Overall it’s still a wholesome film with lots of elements to like, great cinematography wonderful landscape shots but these don’t make a great movie, only enhance it, the weird eastern approach isnt translated well in the drama heavy scenes, but the stand out moment is when a Columbian crime lord sends a very important message to Julius in a powerful monstage of execution style killings, this is enough to tip the mentally fragile Julius over the top but allows Jacob a chance to crack his exterior and make a final fight for his brother, but who will win?


Rating: 5/10

R:Parinda (1989), The Salton Sea (2002)
Spotlight: Vincent D’Onofrio, Anton Yelchin,
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