Home Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1

Horizon: An American Saga - Chapter 1 (15)

Cast: Owen Crow Shoe, Sienna Miller, Jena Malone, Sam Worthington, Kevin Costner
Genre: Western
Author(s): Jon Baird
Director: Kevin Costner
Release Date: 28/06/2024
Running Time: 181mins
Country: US
Year: 2024

In the 1860s, apache Pionsenay instructs his tribe to attack the peace-loving Wyoming community of Horizon, where Christian families have settled in the hope of building a perfect life. The Kittredge clan comprising father James, mother Frances, daughter Lizzie and teenage son Nate fight for their lives against the invaders. Meanwhile, a wagon train heads for Horizon and pioneers including Matthew Van Weyden are determined to shape their destiny.

LondonNet Film Review

Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1 (15) Film Review from LondonNet

Oscar-winner Kevin Costner returns to the director’s chair for the first time since Open Range in 2003 to helm a sweeping historical drama set during the first half of the 1860s against the backdrop of the Civil War. “You just gotta keep going,” his weary horse trader growls at a co-star towards the conclusion of this first chapter of a proposed four-part odyssey. Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1 certainly does keep going, and going, and going, trotting leisurely towards a three-hour running time to establish characters from three gently intertwining storylines that leave hoof marks in Wyoming, Montana and Kansas…

Audiences should expect a little saddle soreness over the coming years as narrative threads unravel while others are neatly tied up. The script co-written by Jon Baird and Costner isn’t overstuffed with detail and surprisingly little happens, aside from explosions of impeccably choreographed violence. Performances are consistently strong and understated except for Jamie Campbell Bower’s unhinged and vengeful son, who is several sleepers short of a railroad and brings intentional chaos to his scenes. Cinematographer J Michael Muro, who first worked with Costner on Dances With Wolves, captures the stark, untamed beauty of desertscapes where freshly spilt blood barely has time to settle on sun-baked ground.

Pionsenay (Owen Crow Shoe) and brother Taklishim (Tatanka Means) defy the orders of their father, White Mountain Apache tribe leader Tuayeseh (Gregory Cruz), to spearhead a night-time attack on the Wyoming community of Horizon. The Kittredges, comprising father James (Tim Guinee), mother Frances (Sienna Miller), daughter Lizzie (Georgia MacPhail) and teenage son Nate (Hayes Costner), fight for their lives against overwhelming odds.

Meanwhile in Montana, embittered matriarch Mrs Sykes (Dale Dickey) dispatches sons Junior (Jon Beavers) and Caleb (Campbell Bower) to hunt down the mistress of her no-good husband (Charles Halford). The “other woman”, Ellen (Jena Malone), has an infant son and Mrs Sykes is determined to forcibly introduce her husband’s illegitimate offspring to their bloodline. Horse trader Hayes Ellison (Costner) and sex worker Marigold (Abbey Lee) are inadvertently caught in the crossfire. On the Santa Fe Trail, a wagon train of pioneers including Matthew Van Weyden (Luke Wilson) hope for a brighter future but they are under the surveillance of Indigenous scouts.

Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1 whets appetites with beautifully crafted yet insubstantial morsels. Technical credits including production and costume design are top notch and evoke a savage, lawless era with aplomb. Concluding minutes are reserved for a slick trailer for Chapter 2 to persuade us that the investment of three precious hours will reap rewards when the next instalment canters into cinemas on August 16. I’m not wholly convinced.

– Jo Planter

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