Release: 5 Mar. 04
BY: DAVID PERRY
Viggo Mortensen, suddenly recognized as a star thanks to his
pitiful performance in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, now gets to show he
can headline a film. Thatís not asking much, though, when the tide of
Seabiscuit fans are willing to see anything has four legs, runs fast, and
will likely turn up in a glue factory.
Posing Mortensenís Frank T. Hopkins as a cowboy variation on the same tired
character played by Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai, this drinking, rough
Civil War veteran has depth built into him by know misery at the hands of
his government. This time itís the massacre of Native Americans, which he
wears on his shoulders like a calling card for tortured hero of the year
status. Mortensen hasnít the chops to really portray any of this, but he
does have the rugged look, which helps the film attain some levels of
success when it just looks at the pan-Arabian horserace Hopkins is competing
in. The thrill of the great race isnít lost on the audience, even if the
occasional diversions for romantic subplots and imperialist double-dealing
come as drags on the whole film.
Inspired by a true story, Hidalgo has the potential to pull off greatness
without turning into a meandering plot of cultural understanding and natural
living. The horse lovers will embrace it in droves, The Lord of the Rings
fans will drool over Viggo, and everyone else will just wait for the end
credits to finally arrive.