Vidhu Vinod Chopra has been a big name in Indian filmmaking since his award-winning debut. Now, he’s moved from Bollywood to Hollywood, earning him the honour of being the first Indian to write, direct and produce a Hollywood film. The results are somewhat mixed.
Broken Horses is essentially a retelling of Chopra’s 1989 masterpiece, Parinda. Set “somewhere near the Mexican border,” it tells the tale of two brothers, Buddy (Chris Marquette) and Jakey (Anton Yelchin). In the vein of a typical Western, they’re orphaned at a young age; to support Jake and his talent for the violin, Buddy ends up a mercenary for local crime boss, Julius Hench (Vincent D’Onofrio). Flash forward a few years, and Jakey’s engaged in New York, ready to leave his old life behind, when Buddy draws him back, and soon both brothers are in too deep.
The film is well shot; the cinematography and picturesque nature of the setting lend a lot of appeal. It’s well acted too, with Chris Marquette as the mentally challenged Buddy, giving a wholly believable performance, and Anton Yelchin looking suitably traumatised by the whole thing. The tale Broken Horses weaves is, by no stretch of the imagination, original. The addition of Buddy’s disability makes it a little more compelling than other stories of its kind, and there are a few wonderfully written segments. Nevertheless, in spite of strong performances and scattered, truly compelling scenes, the film lacks realism, and at times the storytelling is clumsy. There are more than a few occurrences that go completely unexplained, relying entirely on the audience to suspend disbelief.
Despite this, the movie is enjoyable, on the whole. There’s enough action to nicely break up the slower scenes, and it excels in building up tension. Though it’s far from perfect, the story is strangely engrossing. Broken Horses may not be masterpiece, but it’s undoubtedly a triumph.
Broken Horses is released nationwide on 10th April 2015.
Watch the trailer for Broken Horses here: