Wednesday, August 31, 2011

'Horsemen' is predictable and slightly dull

Horsemen (aka "The Four Horsemen") (2009)
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Clifton Collins Jr., Ziyi Zhang, Lou Taylor Pucci, Liam James, Patrick Fugit, and Eric Balfour
Director: Jonas Aakerlund
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

Homicide detective Aidan Breslan (Quaid) is struggling to reconnect emotionally with life and his two young sons (James and Pucci) after the death of his wife when a gruesome series of murders linked by the Biblical Prophecies of the Four Horsemen begin to have a strange resonance with his life.

"Horsemen" is one of those films that started out with a great idea at its core, but then the filmmakers either lost track of it along the way, or they were never competent enough to carry it out. Where they should be subtle in their dropping of hints, they are hamfisted... and when they should be clear and straight-forward with what they are trying to convey, they are so vague that the viewer is left wondering "what was the point of that" more than once. Or worse, we wish they'd get on with it, because we've figured out where they're going and attempts at being clever for no apparent reason become irritating.

The hamfistedness at the wrong times as the story unfolds goes a long way to making this movie strangely dull, despite the fact that the cast and technical crew does their best to keep the suspense up. In fact, the film ultimately feels like an extra-long, weak episode of "CSI: Crime Scene Investators", both with its look and storyline.

Cast-wise, everyone does a decent enough job, although they would have probably done better if they'd redubbed Ziyi Zhang with a good voice actress who spoke better English. She is clearly still struggling with the language and that hurts her performance somewhat, while I think a well-acting re-looping of her dialogue plus her body language on screen would have brought out the intensity that is lost in her thick accent. (Plus, I find it hard to believe that an adopted child who has been with an American family and going to American schools for a decade wouldn't know better English, no matter how bad the parents were.)

This one is worth checking out on cable TV when there's absolutely nothing else that looks interesting, but otherwise this is one to take a pass on.

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