Director: Jonas Åkerlund
Cast: Dennis Quaid, Ziyi Zhang, Lou Taylor
Pucci, Chelcie Ross, Clifton Collins Jr, Patrick Fugit, Barry
Shabaka Henley, Eric Balfour, Paul Dooley, Peter Stormare
RunTime: 1 hr 30 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films & InnoForm
Rating: NC-16 (Violence and Disturbing Scenes)
Official Website: http://www.horsemenmovie.com/
Opening Day: 29 April 2009
At home, hardened police detective Aidan Breslin has grown
increasingly distant from his two young sons Alex and Sean
since the death of his wife. At work, he finds himself thrust
into an investigation of perverse serial killings rooted in
the Biblical prophecy of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse:
The White Horsemen, a master of deception and the unexpected
leader hell-bent on conquest; The Red Horsemen, a sharp-witted
warrior intent on turning man against man, with an innocence
that hides a burning rage within; The Black Horsemen, a manipulative
and dark tyrant, unbalanced but always one step ahead; and
The Pale Horsemen, an executioner with disarming strength,
determined to spread death through surgical precision.
Breslin grapples with each new revelation in the case, he
slowly discovers a shocking connection between himself and
the four suspects.
It's almost inevitable that Horsemen will be compared with Se7en, their use of Biblical motifs the most obvious similarity. Whereas the references in David Fincher's classic were the seven deadly sins, those used in this movie are the four horsemen of the Apocalypse- war, famine, death and pestilence.
They represent four different killers actually, and hence four separate, but equally brutal, killings, each to the specific colour (i.e. white, red, black and green) of the horses in which the riders are supposed to come in. The obligatory world-weary cop called in to investigate is Detective Aidan Breslin (Dennis Quaid) and just as in Se7en, he will discover a personal connection relating him to the murders that have taken place.
For a movie riding on its Biblical premise, Horsemen proves to be undone by the very reason most viewers will be drawn to catching it. Indeed, while writer Dave Callaham works hard at trying to relate the details of each grisly murder to Revelations: 6, the movie loses sight of what the motifs are meant to represent. Not from a lack of knowledge though- throughout it warns of an impending doom, the Apocalypse, as the four Horsemen are meant to herald.
Except that it actually never does come. There is no grand plan at the end of it all- instead, the movie quite nearly ends on an anti-climax, one supposed final twist that will have you thinking "so that was it?" But what really takes the cake is that there is little to suggest why the killers have chosen the four Horsemen as their guises; except perhaps to draw in unsuspecting viewers thinking that this might be another thriller in the vein of Se7en.
That it certainly is not, though not from a lack of trying. In his sophomore feature film effort, music video vet Jonas Akerlund styles his movie in the same doom and gloom, using dim, muted colours all the while to create a bleak atmosphere. Akerlund also seems to have been inspired by the Saw hexology (yes, Saw Vi is coming out this fall), using quick edits in the same way to showcase the gore and torture scenes.
Certainly, Horsemen is not nearly as gripping or thrilling as Se7en or even Saw; but to his credit, Akerlund does attempt to serve up enough distractions to keep you from getting bored. Yet there is only so much he can do with a hokey script, and the loopholes here are big and aplenty. Ditto for Dennis Quaid who works just as hard playing the ragged detective whose specialization in dentistry (imagine that) places him at the centre of the investigation.
The same can't be said however of Zhang Ziyi. In what has been touted as her first full-fledged English language movie debut, she does little besides act all slithering and sultry as Kristen, the adopted daughter of one of the victims who turns out not so innocent after all. Despite her best efforts at channelling Hannibal Lecter into her character, she comes off neither menacing nor intimidating.
It's little wonder then why this Michael Bay production was unceremoniously dumped at a measly 75 theatres in the United States. It doesn't have many original ideas to begin with; and what inspiration it may have had to milk Four Horsemen premise for a serial killer mystery is sadly squandered in a pointless effort. "When all is revealed, it will be too late" says the movie- indeed, when all is revealed, it will be too late for both your time and money.
Review by Gabriel Chong
(More like a headless Horseman than the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, this Se7en wannabe wanders around with little direction.)