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Case Number 06738

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Blind Horizon

Lionsgate // 2004 // 99 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Mitchell Hattaway (Retired) // May 6th, 2005

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All Rise...

The Nondescript Random Title Generator strikes again, says Judge Mitchell Hattaway.

The Charge

The enemy in me…

Opening Statement

Too many producers spoil the movie. I, however, am about to spoil the plot.

Facts of the Case

A comatose Frank Kavanaugh (Val Kilmer, The Island of Dr. Moreau) lies in a hospital bed in a small New Mexico town. Upon his recovery, Frank, now suffering from amnesia, discovers that he has survived a murder attempt, which he believes is tied to his knowledge of a planned presidential assassination. Frank does not know why or how he has knowledge of the plot to kill the President, nor does he know if he was to play any part in the crime.

The Evidence

The plot of Blind Horizon is constructed out of bits and pieces from other films, most notably Memento and In the Line of Fire. It also borrows the notion of a bout of amnesia making someone a better person from Regarding Henry. No film that lifts from Regarding Henry can possibly be any good, and Blind Horizon is no exception.

It's not hard to figure out exactly where Blind Horizon is headed, nor is it difficult to ascertain the particular role in the story of any given character long before his/her loyalties are revealed. Take Kavanaugh himself—he claims to have information about an assassination plot, although he doesn't how he knows. Well, it's not too hard to discern that he's somehow in on the hit. There's no way he's a federal agent or member of any other law enforcement agency. If he were a government agent, other agents would have descended on the scene in the blink of an eye, and it's doubtful he would have been working the case alone. Speaking of government agents, it's apparent right away that the two Secret Service agents who come to interview Kavanaugh aren't who they claim to be. Would real agents take a statement from a guy who claims to know about an attempt on the President's life and then just leave him be? Then there's Chloe Richards (Neve Campbell, Three to Tango), who shows up six days after Kavanaugh is found lying in the desert, claiming to be his fiancée. Six days? Yeah, okay. The man she's about to marry is missing for six days and she doesn't go to the authorities. That's the first thing that went through my mind when Campbell showed up, but it doesn't register with anyone in the film for at least an hour of screen time. I understand it's a small town, and he probably isn't used to dealing with anything bigger than a domestic disturbance or drunk and disorderly calls, but you'd think that Sheriff Jack Kolb (Sam Shepard, Swordfish), the soon-to-be-retiring lawman, would at least be able to think straight.

Also, several aspects of the plot don't add up. I don't really understand the purpose of the time spent on Shirl Cash (Noble Willingham, Fire in the Sky), who is Kolb's deputy and just happens to be campaigning for his boss's job (sadly, this was Willingham's last film). Cash is taking bribes to allow illegal immigrants to cross the border, and a newspaper article about this activity eventually leads to his resignation, but what's the point? Is it simply to create a situation in which Kolb is the only local lawman on duty the day the President comes through town, or does it actually tie into the assassination? A television news report makes mention of the President's sudden reversal on a bill regarding immigration, but in the end that plot thread is left dangling. Then there's the truck driver who intentionally jackknifes his tanker on a rural highway, which forces the presidential motorcade to alter its route (an unlikely scenario if I ever saw one). Is this guy a part of Kavanaugh's team? That doesn't seem likely, as Kilmer's character is part of a three-man team, and we meet the other two would-be assassins. Okay, if he's not working with Kavanaugh, why doesn't he know that the hit has been cancelled? Also, is it really possible for someone to jackknife a truck, roll it a couple of times, blow it up, and yet walk away from the accident totally unscathed? Speaking of unscathed, how does Kavanaugh fall off a cliff and hit the desert floor two hundred feet below but not suffer any broken bones or internal injuries? How could the people who attempted to kill Kavanaugh, people who are trained assassins, be dumb enough not to make sure he's dead before they leave him in the middle of nowhere? Whatever happened to two shots in the chest and one in the head? Nobody walks away from that. Since when are nurses allowed to smoke inside hospital rooms, especially the rooms of patients who are hooked up to a respirator? Exactly how easy is it to access a secret Swiss bank account? Can any dimwitted, chain-smoking nurse do it in a matter of seconds? Don't Secret Service agents watch the rooftops of buildings along motorcade routes? Why the hell does Steve-O from jackass have a cameo in this film? (Whew—let me catch my breath.) Finally, why was the assassination called off? Better yet, why would the people who hired Kavanaugh tell him that it couldn't be called off once he set the plan in motion? Don't they have a more rational contingency plan? Why go through all the trouble of trying to hunt down and kill three people? Only one scenario I can think of would require the people who hired Kavanaugh to kill him if they changed their plans: They somehow knew he would end up with amnesia, decide to turn his life around, and end up betraying them. But wait, he only has amnesia and decides to turn his life around because the people who hired him tried to put a bullet in his head. I don't care how you slice it, this film's story simply doesn't work.

If I did the math correctly, 18 producers are listed in the credits for Blind Horizon, which has to be some sort of record, and which also helps explain why the film is such a mess. The bonus material on this disc includes a featurette titled "The Cutting Room," which is essentially a 19-minute examination of how the producers took the film away from director Michael Haussman (not the drummer from 'Til Tuesday, but the man responsible for Madonna's "Take a Bow" video), hired a new team of editors, and drastically overhauled the film. Haussman's original cut was apparently a slower, more contemplative mystery, but the producers decided they wanted a quicker, more action-driven suspense film (somebody needs to tell them it didn't work). In the process of reediting the film, they shortened scenes (or dropped them altogether), added some flashbacks, and even made major changes to various plot points. It shines a rather interesting spotlight on the cavalier attitudes of the producers when it came to tampering with the work of the director and the writers (and makes editor Alain Jakubowicz look like the world's biggest ass), although I doubt this is really what they had in mind.

Blind Horizon arrives on DVD with an uneven transfer; exterior shots look fine, but most interior scenes are incredibly noisy and grainy. The audio fares a little better, although the 5.1 mix isn't as punchy or immersive as it could have been, and the dialogue can get a bit muddled at times. In addition to the editing featurette mentioned above, extras include a few trailers and a rather dull featurette focusing on Machine Head, the group responsible for the film's music.

Closing Statement

Blind Horizon is boring, illogical, and a complete waste of time.

The Verdict


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Scales of Justice

Video: 75
Audio: 80
Extras: 40
Acting: 80
Story: 60
Judgment: 60

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
• None
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Mystery
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• "Cutting Room -- The Insider Perspective" Featurette
• "Music by Machine Head" Featurette
• Trailer


• IMDb

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