Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Horseman on DVD

The Horseman is a 2008 Australian film starring Peter Marshall. One would think an apparent duplicate of the popular movie Taken starring Liam Neeson. While Taken is filled with action, special effects and a lot of money, The Horseman is more of an examination of the psyche of a father who is hell bent on retribution for the death of his daughter.

While the plot is similar in some regards to Taken, the budget is quite a bit smaller, and the overall quality is not as good. This shouldn’t take away from the wonderful direction of Steven Kastrissios and the perplexing acting of Peter Marshall. In fact, in many ways, Marshall is just as good as Neeson. We see a complexity that is riveting and Marshall does as much with the script and direction as one could expect. His performance alone makes this movie worth watching for the fan of action, thrillers, and horror. This revenge movie is smart, while calculated, and riveting for the full 96 minutes.

Christian is a man who finds out that his daughter was found dead. After receiving a porno in the mail from an anonymous source he puts two and two together and realizes she was involved in activities outside of her own choosing. Christian becomes a version of the Biblical Horseman; he distributes justice to those involved in his daughter’s death. Along the way he picks up a hitchhiker who causes him to reexamine his purpose, and his mission. He is reminded of his own faults as a father, and the need to make things right. What happens on screen as a result of his actions is not easy to look at, it is not enjoyable, but like the Biblical Horseman in the Apocalypse, there is hell to pay, and many who will be sent to hell by the one who would execute justice.

From the early scenes there is some confusion as there is not clarity as to what is happening due to the use of flashbacks and not knowing what is real time or a flashback. While director Kastrissios brings things together there is still some confusion which makes the film hard to follow. As the characters developed I am not so sure I liked the character of Christian. There seems to be a point where love drives him to hate. While he is the executor of vengeance, he crosses a line and one wonders if vengeance is worth it. One of the nice things about the direction and script is that Christian struggles with this issue. He realizes there is more to life and love, but just when he understands this and the viewer thinks everything is worked out, a twist occurs that illustrates there are consequences for actions, even to those who would execute vengeance.

While the graphic nature of this movie will prevent many from watching it, I didn’t find it so bad. The graphic violence could have been much worse, and much of the violence is left to the imagination. This doesn’t take away from the concepts presented. All of us are challenged with the concept that we may be judged for the wrongs we have done. Just as Christian represents the Biblical Horseman of Judgment, will we face the same kind of judgment? The movie symbolizes that no matter the level of involvement in wrongs, the judgment is the same, and it may result in a terrible consequence. While The Horseman illustrates this in a graphic way, one can’t help but wonder is the story implying there may be consequences in a spiritual nature. Are we in fact more like those who sit back and watch evil occur around us, doing nothing, or are we something else? Then just as Christian, are some of us purveyors of what we think is justice, when in reality, we have gone too far?

Let me be clear, this movie is not easy to watch. While it resembles Taken in some ways, Taken was entertaining, and enjoyable, there was hope. The Horseman is difficult, and hard to watch. It is graphic, even if it is left to the imagination, but it is also thought provoking. How far would a parent be willing to go to execute justice? What would constitute one needing justice? Who makes those decisions? One may often think they are awarded the right to execute justice, what about those people? Movies like The Horseman reminds me of my own need to step back and let God be the judge. I questioned, are there too many Christians’ taking on the role of God, sometimes even hurting those around them and themselves? It illustrates there is hell to pay for the wrongs we do. Prior to doing evil, it is good to think of the consequences we may face. I wouldn’t want to face this Christian, certainly not in the role of a Horseman out for vengeance.

On a scale of 1 – 10 for the 7 letters in the word revenge, a disturbing 7

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