Release Date: 10th April, 2015
Cast: María Valverde, Thomas Jane, Vincent D’Onofrio, Anton Yelchin, María Valverde
Writer/Director/Producer: Vidhu Vinod Chopra
Plot: Broken Horses is Vinod Chopra Films’ first mainstream English language feature, based on an original story by Vidhu Vinod Chopra. The screenplay for the film has been written by Chopra and Abhijat Joshi, the award winning writer of 3 idiots, Lage Raho Munna Bhai and Eklavya – The Royal Guard.
Set in the shadows of the US-Mexico border gang wars, Broken Horses is an epic thriller about the bonds of brotherhood, the laws of loyalty and the futility of violence.
Principal photography on the film commenced on 10th October 2012 and was completed on 14th December 2012. Shoot locations were situated in and around the Los Angeles area. After completion of the edit schedule, the film is currently in post-production in Los Angeles.
The Broken Horses team includes Oscar nominated Tom Stern (The Hunger Games, Changeling, Million Dollar Baby) as Director of Photography, Toby Corbett (Crossing Over, Bad Lieutenant) as Production Designer and Emmy nominated Mary Vogt (Men In Black 3, Batman Returns) as Costume Designer.
Broken Horses is being produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Head of Vinod Chopra Films’ international operations, Subhash Dhar. The film will be presented by Reliance Entertainment, India’s leading media conglomerate, together with Vinod Chopra Films.
Rating: 2.5/5 Stars (Two and half stars)
Star Cast: María Valverde, Thomas Jane, Vincent D’Onofrio, Anton Yelchin, María Valverde
Director: Vidhu Vinod Chopra
What’s Good: Vincent D’Onofrio does a fabulous job as Julius Hench, the lead antagonist. In this rather confused plot, he is the only thing that stands tall as pure ‘bad man’ as Buddy’s character would call it. Other than that, Broken Horses may need a mention only because it is the first Hollywood drama to have been directed by an Indian even though it becomes quite self explanatory after watching it.
What’s Bad: Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s lack of clarity in making the film either completely western or Indian-inspired western. Since it is based on his own 1989 Hindi film Parinda, it is difficult to see him struggle with the plot which is edited for western standards and yet fails to achieve the purpose.
Loo break: Certainly! This one’s a slow poison.
Watch or Not?: There is absolutely nothing genius about Broken Horses. Chopra very conveniently feeds us his Bombay gangster saga Parinda with a Mexican mafia coating and thinks that cowboy hats and Italian gangsters will blow our minds. In case you haven’t watched Parinda, watch it, that is definitely a better work of Chopra than Broken Horses.
Taking off with a flashback of 15 years prior to present day, we see Gabriel Heckum (Thomas Jane) in a shooting range where he is accompanied by his son Buddy Heckum (Chris Marquette). While Buddy has hurried to call his dad for his little brother (Nicholas Neve) Jakey’s violin recital, Heckum senior in a dramatic manner says ‘There is still plenty of time’ only to get shot in the next scene.
After experiencing the trauma seeing his father get shot in the head, a vulnerable Buddy is taken under the wing by a local crime kingpin Julius Hench (Vincent D’Onofrio). As years pass by, a slow-witted Buddy is trained by Hench to become a hitman and Jacob aka Jakey who moves to New York thanks to his brother’s provisions has been interviewed for a job at Philharmonic and is slated to have a wedding with his lady love Vittoria (Maria Velverde).
Before his wedding ceremony Jacob (Anton Yelchin) receives an invitation from his brother Buddy to visit home for a surprise gift. As Jakey returns to home town and meets his brother, he is soon exposed to the reality of Buddy being a part of Hench’s gang. What entails is a story of brotherhood as Jackey must risk his life to save his brother from the clutches of evil Hench. On this journey, he is guided by his childhood music master Ignacio (Sean Patrick Flannery) who is now a cripple since Hench has cut off his feet as a punishment to helping his wife and son escape town.
Amidst this dangerous mafia, will Jakey be able to save his mentally unstable brother Buddy?
Broken Horses Review: Script Analysis
It is hard to see a fine writer and director like Vidhu Vinod Chopra struggle with his own script. After witnessing his notable works such as Khamosh or for that matter his simplistic writing of Ferrari Ki Sawaari, his first Hollywood drama seems quite fickle. Why was a fresh script so difficult to produce is the only question that riddled me. Parinda has been his own gem in Hindi cinema and even though it was already inspired from a Hollywood film, once again remaking it in the form of Broken Horses which does not even hit the right notes is a downer.
While Chopra edits the script this time to fit in with the western standards, they remain unfinished and unblended. Abhijaat Joshi also writes the dialogues and sadly they seem quite awkward and abrupt. The writing seems too Desi and at some point you feel it is more like watching a dubbed version of a Hindi film. Also Ignacio’s story seems too dramatic in the plot and gives a bit of surreal touch to the realism that the bonding of two estranged brothers brings in the story. At a point when Buddy meets his to-be sister-in-law, you feel he may present to her the “Khandaani Kangan” or so; but well this is Hollywood so he takes her to the ranch he built for his brother as a wedding gift.
Broken Horses Review: Star Performances
Chris Marquette as Buddy Heckum does a great job. The slow witted Buddy has some intense scenes and especially the one where he kills a man with his bare hands, Chris excels in it. There is so much genuinity in Chris’s work that you actually feel for his character. He owns Buddy’s character from the first frame.
Anton Yelchin becomes the younger brother Jacob Heckum. Yelchin puts up a good show but Chris Marquette and Vincent’s characters overshadow his honest character.
Vincent D’Onofrio is the hero of the film. He is a delicious antagonist and his mind games with Buddy just make you hate him even more. He is cold as stone and his grim nature will send chills down your spine.
Maria Velvarde who plays Vittoria, Jacob’s fiancé has little screen time. Her character is not as much developed and so other than coming off as a caring wife-to-be, she does not have a plum role.
Sean Patrick Flannery as Ignacio is another actor who gives a brief but power packed performance. As a crippled, who has lost his legs because of evil Hench, he has little screen time but he manages to put up a great act.