Thursday, June 29, 2023

Warhorse One: Heroism in Afghanistan

This rescue mission should not have been necessary. Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan was strategically questionable, but the execution was a humiliating horror show. The chaos also caught Zoe Walters’ missionary father by surprise too. However, the U.S, military was so grateful for his help during the evacuation, they redirect Master Chief Richard Mirko’s team to extract him and his family. Sadly, little Zoe will be the only one left to save and Mirko is the only surviving team-member who can save her in Johnny Strong & William Kaufman’s Warhorse One, which opens this Friday in theaters.

Mirko’s team were on their way to another mission when they reassigned to save the Walters instead. Unfortunately, the team’s chopper is blown out of the sky, leaving Mirko the only survivor. He wants to take the fight to the Taliban in the area, but Commander Johns back at HQ keeps him on mission. Tragically, the same Taliban faction also found the Walters’ transport. Only Zoe survived, because her mother died shielding her.

Initially, Zoe is also frightened of Mirko when he finds her. However, she starts to trust him, because she recognizes the wounded sensitivity under his gruffness. When you boil it down,
Warhorse One is a lot like Man on Fire, transplanted to the mountains of Afghanistan. Of course, that means each time Mirko guns down a Taliban fanatic (and he blasts a lot of them), viewers get some cathartic endorphins.

Frankly, you have to give credit to Strong, who plays Mirko and co-wrote and co-directed with Kaufman, because
Warhorse One has enough slam-bang action to hang with Extraction 2. The body count is impressive, but its depiction of boots-on-the-ground warfighting is grounded in reality.

Strong (best known for the first and only-remotely realistic
Fast and Furious) is definitely a strong and silent type of thesp, but he has a magnetic screen presence in Warhorse. Frankly, by avoiding big melodramatic moments, he makes Mirko’s burgeoning protective feelings for Walters much more compelling and even poignant. As Walters, Athena Durner is also a quiet kind of kid, but her eyes are eerily expressive.

Warhorse One is set during an agonizing period of recent American history, but at least we finally get a patriotic action film out of it. Admittedly, the narrative is pretty simple, but it taps into some deep heroic archetypes. Strong and Kaufman deliver exactly what a lot of people will want for the 4th of July, so the release timing is perfect. In fact, the action is so well orchestrated, Warhorse One is probably going to be one of the few Afghanistan-related films that still has a regular viewership fifteen years from now. Highly recommended for action fans, Warhorse One opens tomorrow (6/30) at the Cinelounge Sunset in Hollywood.