12 June 2015 | TheLittleSongbird
Decent but could have been better
The Horsemen could have been better, and I was expecting to be bowled over considering the talent there is. It's still however a very decent and interesting film, with its best assets being excellent.
When it comes to how The Horsemen looks, it's in this area where the film excels the most. The magnificent Afghanistan scenery, with its breath-taking sunsets and serene mountain views for examples, are done justice by the colourfully sweeping but also gritty photography, with its frequent use of beautiful aerial shots. The lushly romantic and (at other points) also appropriately brassy music score compliments the mood perfectly and the buzkashi scenes are relentlessly brutal(a warning this is not for the faint-hearted) as well as very compelling.
John Frankenheimer's direction, while not the best he has ever done is restrained while not undermining any tension when it's needed. The characters are interesting and the interplay between them often is quite real, these are not 'likeable' characters by all means(never were they meant to be) but the development and interplay was well done it was easy to care for them. The acting is well above average on the most, with a more restrained than usual but very commanding, eerie and actually also very moving performance of Jack Palance faring best. His make-up is believable too. Leigh Taylor-Young plays her role very sympathetically.
For all these good qualities however, The Horsemen has a few failings. One problem being the script, which has some naturally contemplative and poetic moments but also too many moments of silliness and awkwardness. A good atmosphere is maintained throughout and much of the film is very passionate and emotionally affecting, but the story for my tastes did drag sometimes and felt a little choppy structurally. Omar Sharif(from personal opinion) has also given better performances, it's certainly better than his stiff performance is the badly miscalculated Che Guevara biopic Che(which coincidentally also had Palance in one of his worst performances), but the performance here is a bit one-note and of one expression, Sharif spends most of the time looking very grim and not much of anything else.
All in all, a decent film with some truly excellent things, but also could have been great if other important components were done stronger. 6.5/10 Bethany Cox