Friday, May 01, 2009

The Horsemen

Kuah Simi?

I was gearing up for a good serial killer movie given the premise of having the four horsemen of the apocalypse, with the trailer piquing my interest from its fair share of unflinching blood and gore. Sad to say though that the distributors preferred to appeal to a wider audience for this, and some scenes were clearly butchered for its language, conversational content as well as snipping off some of the more gory moments of annihilation. I guess even the horsemen themselves are powerless when up against the censors' scissors, which is the more potent weapon here.

Dennis Quaid plays a pained cop Aidan Breslin, who has recently lost his wife and is growing increasingly distant from his kids Alex (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Sean (Liam James), burying himself in and using work as an emotional crutch, never being there for family because work often calls out for his attention. And as the trailers would have pretty much revealed, the serial killer victims are all tortured with meat hooks of sorts, and he's faced with more than 1 killer who model themselves after the biblical Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Sounds like your average detective movie right? I guess a memorable film from the genre like Se7en will only come once in a blue moon. This film by Jonas Akerlund tries to elicit similar moods devoid of humour and is all seriousness in tone, but its plot turned out to be quite flimsy thin, and those who have experienced enough of the genre, would have guessed the culprit for the last act somewhere by the mid-way point. No, it's not Ziyi Zhang (as she is credited), and despite a major billing in the credits, her character Kristen turned out to be spoiled by the trailer already, coupled with the fact that she doesn't have more than 15 minutes worth of screen time in total.

While this is one of her rare villainous outing with dialogue (back in Rush Hour 2 she was struggling with English), I would have supposed that opposition to her character here as a villain was unfounded, given that they should have been more concerned with her sleepwalking through the role, and could have been replaced by any other lesser actresses since at best it's only a supporting role. Dennis Quaid however shows how he ages well into delivering stellar, lead performances, and makes it believable he's a man constantly struggling with a work-life balance.

Ultimately, the message here is how important parents play in nurturing their children, and should be very much involved in their development, rather than thinking that cash would be a sufficient substitute and settle everything. The film does suggest, and probably had a subplot going for it, something like Japan's suicide pact clubs online, something which I thought could have been given an additional focus instead of leaving it open ended at that, just to show the extent of the “apocalypse” as being delivered by its messengers.

Technically, one aspect which irked me, was how low the cropping turned out to be. I have read that there were constant boom mikes spotted in shots, so it could be a bad by-product of having to address that problem, in addition to ensuring that the printed Chinese subtitles are visible for the audience. So there were a lot of heads cut off at the foreheads during shot-reverse-shot conversational pieces, and various other medium to close up shots, that irritated the hell out of me.

Horsemen had an interesting premise working for it, but alas didn't fulfill its potential in having to drop deeper themes for that frantic pace to the finishing line - which comparing to the run time at, we had 20 minutes shorn off here.

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