Review by Luke Carberry
It seems as though there are very few competent crime based thrillers being released today. Viewers are constantly holding out for the next stylised, exciting, and profound genre staple, in the vein of David Fincher’s Seven. More often than not they’re left with something lacking originality, simply piggybacking off the success of a thirteen-year-old film. In one way The Horsemen is different, in that it seems content with piggybacking off the success of an eight-year-old TV franchise instead.
Dennis Quaid plays Aidan Breslin, a detective devoted to his work, who has recently lost his wife, and is growing distant from his two sons as a result. When a series of gruesome murders take place, Quaid’s character is assigned to the case. Due to the nature of the killings, he soon discovers that the culprits have been inspired by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Jonas Åkerlund is primarily a director of music videos, but you wouldn’t be surprised having watched The Horsemen. The film posses the main attribute of something shot for VH1, in that it looks like it was intended for TV. Åkerlund’s visual style is bland to say the least, with long lingering shots and predictably drab lighting not doing nearly enough to support the scenes of supposed tension. The film’s opening credits reveal that Michael Bay was in fact one of the producers, and despite his recent Transformers adaptations being big, loud special effects spectacles with nothing more to offer, one can’t help but think that if he was helming this project there would at least be some sort of visual panache. Other cinematic elements; such as the score, don’t even deserve a mention, being made up of nothing more than a constant hum of violins, with the odd bit of piano thrown in as a weak attempt at variety.
On the plus side, the film boasts some very capable actors at its forefront. Both Dennis Quaid and Zhang Ziyi (who plays a suspected killer) are seasoned pros, who have demonstrated great range in the past. Unfortunately Quaid isn’t given much to do other than mope about and stumble upon leads. As for Zhang, this is her second fully English role, and she’s been unfairly burdened with some lengthy monologues, try as she might to deliver them.
Dave Callaham’s script about a group of Bible obsessed killers might sound exciting on paper, but the link between the Four Horsemen is barely explored, and is merely used as a thin veil to reveal some inept social commentary towards the end of the film, usually spewed out by the presenter of a daytime chat show. It’s brash, insensitive, and used to drum up unnecessary fear. However; fear not, as the ending is your usual Hollywood cop out, which renders any point the film was trying to make lifeless.
The Horsemen has been made multiple times before, with far more successful results. I‘m not actually referring to other films here, but to numerous episodes of CSI. It’s not a bad film, but when you can switch on your TV at any time of the day, and catch a forty minute episode of a crime drama which does exactly the same thing, what’s the point in wasting your time elsewhere?
Director: Jonas Åkerlund
Writer: Dave Callaham
Producers: Brad Fuller, Andrew Form, Michael Bay
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Zhang Ziyi, Clifton Collins Jr., Lou Taylor Pucci
Year of Release: 2009
September 10, 2009, 12:17pm Comments