Hidalgo Is A Hit

In Hidalgo, Viggo Mortensen plays a Pony Express courier for the US cavalry that witnesses the destruction of American Indian populations circa 1890 in the American frontier.

Since his parentage is both European and Indian, Frank T. Hopkins (Mortensen) reacts strongly to the Indian genocide and turns to drinking.

Throughout the movie Hopkins struggles with his ties to the American Indians. The journey he undergoes is both a physical journey and a mental journey for Hopkins, as he learns to accept his identity.

When Hopkins is challenged to race his horse, Hidalgo, in a prestigious race in Saudi Arabia, he accepts as a way to temporally escape the world in which he lives.

From the moment that Hopkins and Hidalgo step off the ship in the Middle East, the film becomes rich in character actors. There are the villains, the loyal sidekicks, the damsels in distress, and the fools. All of the components of a huge adventure film are present, including the vast scenery of the desert.

Of course, when the race begins, all odds are against Hopkins and his multi-colored mustang. The other contestants laugh and mock him, saying that he will die on the first leg of the journey. But a confident Hopkins surprises them all with his stamina and “Indiana Jones”-like resourcefulness.

This film takes on a caper genre as Hopkins faces obstacle after obstacle on the long horse race. Not only is he battling the adverse climate of the desert, filled with sand storms and heat, he is also battling a number of devious characters who want to take him out of the race.

Though they try to kill him, Hopkins outsmarts them time after time. He is only sidetracked once when he manages to save the daughter of the sheik who was captured by the enemy.

Remarkably, Hopkins does not lose much ground, and he is still in the race.

In general the movie is exciting in a generic sort of way. Hopkins and other characters are likable, and Mortensen gives an excellent performance.

There is a sequence of scenes in which Hidalgo is sick and Hopkins is dehydrated, and Hopkins debates whether or not he must shoot the horse.

In this sequence, Mortensen’s face resembles the sun blistered and hurting face of Clint Eastwood in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Three quarters through the film, things begin to drag. It seems as though the writers added scenes just to make the film longer; these scenes, however, do not add to the meaning of the movie.

The characters encounter a few more obstacles from the bad guys and a few more days in the sun before the end of the movie.

Hidalgo is a western at heart even though it is set in the Saudi Arabian desert and not the west of the United States. It is filled with references to the old west, such as Colt guns, the Okay Coral, and Buffalo Bill.

It is the perfect movie to see if you like westerns and adventure films.