The assassination of a border-town sheriff played by Thomas Jane alters the paths of his two sons some 15 years later in “Broken Horses.”
After trying to make it as a classical violinist in New York, Jakey (Anton Yelchin, Chekov in the new “Star Trek” films) returns home before his wedding to accept a gift from brother Buddy (Chris Marquette). Simple-minded and highly impressionable, Buddy has been a hired gun and surrogate son for local crime kingpin Julius Hench (Vincent D’Onofrio).
Julius and Jakey take turns manipulating Buddy, one to retain a loyal soldier and the other to preserve their lives.
This western feels timeless despite signs of modernity such as the smartphone and the border patrol. The performances (especially by child actors) and production design deliberately echo golden-age Hollywood. Perhaps truth, justice and the American way simply haven’t changed in half a century — at least in the eyes of Vidhu Vinod Chopra, the Bollywood director and co-writer at the helm here.
Generational grudge is a universal theme; the good brother-bad brother dichotomy, a Bollywood fixture, also plays out in “Broken Horses.”
While Chopra attempts to crack the American market with a slice of cinematic apple pie, he holds up a mirror to how Hollywood’s tried-and-true narrative of vigilantism connotes who we are, at home and overseas.
MPAA rating: R for violence, language
Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Playing: ArcLight, Hollywood; Cinemark 18 & XD, Los Angeles; Laemmle’s Town Center 5, Encino.