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Warhorse One (2023) Review

Set in the closing days of the US involvement in Afghanistan, Warhorse One opens with one of the characters saying “Three administrations held this thing together, now this one wants to walk away and let the enemy take over the country”, conveniently forgetting it was the third of those administrations who ordered the release of several thousand Taliban prisoners then signed the agreement to pull American troops out. 

After that bit of blatant political propaganda, I probably should have written off the rental fee and found something else to watch, but being the stubborn bastard that I am, I kept watching. I should have trusted my instincts.

That opening conversation ends with a SEAL team which includes Master Chief Richard Mirko (Johnny Strong, Invincible, Black Hawk Down), codenamed Warhorse One, being sent to rescue a missionary and his family who are being pursued by the Taliban. On the way there their chopper is shot down, Mirko is blown out of the craft and not only survives the fall but gets up, dusts himself off, and decides to complete the mission by himself.

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The only problem is by the time he finds them, the missionary and his family are, with the exception of six-year-old Zoe (Athena Durner) dead. That left me wondering what kind of asshole brings his wife and young children into a war zone as brutal as Afghanistan in the first place? He had to know the risks of being an American missionary, let alone one covertly helping the US military.

If he and his wife wanted to take the risk, fine, but to put a death sentence on their kids as well is just sick. And why, since he was doing The Lord’s work, didn’t God save their collective asses, was He too busy cushioning Mirko’s fall? But then if he did save them we wouldn’t have this dollar store version of Extraction to watch, would we?

This is very much Strong’s film. Apart from starring he also co-wrote and co-directed with William Kaufman (The Channel, Daylight’s End) as well as writing the score, working on the VFX, doing the editing, makeup, props, and probably a few other things I missed. So the credit and/or blame for how Warhorse One turned out can mostly be given to him. Unfortunately, there’s a lot more blame than credit to be delivered.

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First of all, there is no reason for Warhorse One to run for two hours. The plot, and action, are incredibly simplistic and could easily have been covered in ninety minutes. Sticking in more repetitive scenes of gunfire doesn’t make it any more exciting. If those firefights had been better filmed it might have made a difference, but most of them follow the same generic template. Mirko fires at Taliban fighters we can’t see. The film cuts to them shooting back at Mirko who is now off-screen. Mirko fires some more. We cut back to the bad guys, this time with some CGI blood spray.

Likewise, the film’s characterization is almost nonexistent. Mirko is the second coming of John Wayne, all things heroic and virtuous with one mission, protect innocent little Zoe. The Afghans are subhuman beasts who we see cheerfully kill Zoe’s unarmed family and take selfies with their corpses. And of course, one threatens to molest her at a later point in the film.

When one of the Taliban asks our hero why the Americans came to their country and killed so many of their civilians, he responds “So we can kill shitheads like you”. We get it, white man good, brown man evil. And, whether intentionally or not, that’s reinforced by the fact all the US personnel we see are Caucasian. It’s been pointed out that a Hispanic soldier is seen in the flashback to the chopper. He’s visible in a couple of quick shots that maybe last thirty seconds combined, and has no dialogue.

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There is some chemistry in some of the scenes between Zoe and Mirko, Durner is surprisingly good for a first time child performer. Unfortunately, there are frequent problems with the score drowning out their dialogue, undermining even that minor positive.

Warhorse One was made with a particular audience in mind, and if you fall into it, you may enjoy it. If you don’t then you’re in for a long two hours unless you’re smarter than me and bail out early.

Well Go USA released Warhorse One to theatres on June 30th and to Digital and VOD Platforms on July 4th. If you’re looking for something similar but hopefully better, FilmTagger can offer some suggestions.

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Where to watch Warhorse One
Our Score

22 thoughts on “Warhorse One (2023) Review”

  1. Reviewer is obviously very jaded and prideful. Too bad, IMHO it was a great movie! I have been trying to find the location listed, but so far no success.

  2. Background music was overbearing and constantly playing. Couldn’t hear any or most of the conversations between the soldier and the little girl.

  3. It’s a fact that 90% of the US population are stupid people, this movie was made for the other 10%, unfortunately this reviewer is in that 90% category. Why don’t you make a movie so you can put all your dumb ass thought’s in it. Then maybe you could do an honest review of yourself instead of placing them on someone else’s work.

    1. The funny thing is you actually believe that, the rest of us realize you’re too stupid to realize that you’re stupid.

  4. Reviewer made untrue statements.

    Not all US personnel were Caucasian. One in the TOC was black, one in the helo was Hispanic and the one referred to in a story shared by “Warhorse” to the little girl was a middle easterner and a Muslim.

    When all you think of is pink elephants and you look for pink elephants, you will see pink elephants everywhere you go. Jim Morazzini, your bias is showing.

    P.S
    I agree that it was a poorly made movie, though I liked the message.

    1. Having given it a second look you are right there is a Hispanic guy in the flashback scenes in the chopper. Although with maybe 30 seconds of screen time and no dialogue he’s easy to miss.

      I’m not still not seeing the black guy in the TOC though, you only really see the radio operator and an older white guy. In most shots everyone is just a black silhouette or a blurry uniform hustling past the radio guy, probably they could pay the extras less if they don’t show their faces.

  5. Wow, the reviewer has some serious bias, then again I’ve never hears of this CiLister reviewer. Try getting a life and since I grew up in Chicago for the last 60 years and was fortunate to have grown up with Roger Ebert & Gene, well you’re a nobody and never will be remembered as a great movie reviewer. It must be an ego killer to be a 3rd rate reviewer.

    1. “Dr Zchivago” “I’ve never hears of” “CiLister”

      Try getting off your mother, out of the trailer and taking some English lessons.

  6. Roger & Gene's Ghosts

    Wow, You’re just proving how little class or humility you have and how much of a weak little snowflake you are by leaving comments like this ”
    JIM MORAZZINI
    JULY 16, 2023 AT 12:28 AM
    The funny thing is you actually believe that, the rest of us realize you’re to stupid too realize that you’re stupid.”.

    You really are a weak, little thin skinned, pathetic whimp who’s fragile ego has to insult commentary that is other people’s opinions of your reviews. Are you such an egomaniac with an inferiority complex that you would actually resort to insulting comments about your reviews? Seriously, are you 25, 35, 45 yrs old? If you actually believed in your work, you shouldn’t have to insult critics of your reviews. Wow, you will never be the nicotine stain on Roger Eberts whitey titeys. Pathetic excuse for a movie reviewer who resorts to insulting reviewers of his reviews if they don’t praise his weak fragile Pathetic ego. Dude just quit, you’ll never be a successful movie reviewer. Wow, what a winner.

    1. Funny you forgot to quote what I was responding to. I have no problem responding to insults with insults so go back to jerking off to your fantasies about what was inside “Roger Eberts whitey titey”.

  7. My name is Michael Moss I am from Oklahoma I am 51 years old I have seen tons of movies I rate warhorse one 4 stars ^ these credicts need to get more into the story and the feeling of the movie but I see what credicts today call good movies they are s##t so I would not put much into it.. p.s. I would like to get sound track to the movie . I think Johnny strong did one hell of a good job!!!

    1. If the comments defending this film had any more spelling and grammar issues they’d look like political posts on Facebook.

  8. Jose Villasenor

    This movie sucks! No part of Afghanistan that I have ever seen in any other movie or documentary about America’s involvement there looks like the verdant wilderness setting of this clunker! Should have called “Fighting Phony Taliban in the Pacific Northwest.” Terrible production values, they didn’t even bother trying to make up the obviously Caucasion actors playing the Taliban to even slightly resemble Afghans! Totally agree that it’s simplistic plot could have been done in 90 minutes or even less! What a waste of time!

    1. Oh yes Raj Kala, Siya, Xander Gomez, and David Ibrahim, all those classic Caucasian names. Filmed in that jewel of the Pacific Northwest, Texas.

  9. The bad guys aren’t “Afghans”. In the opening scenes it’s explained that the insurgents are supposed to be Taliban but that many of them are also coming across the border from Pakistan. The fact that this reviewer can’t tell the difference between a Pakistani, a member of the Taliban, and Afghans actually says a lot more about him than it does about the movie.

    Also the bravest man Strong’s character ever met was Muslim.

    As far as the missionaries taking their kids to a dangerous place, you don’t understand Christianity at all. Christians believe that this life is but a shadow compared to eternity with God. So to die isn’t a bad thing, it’s a promotion. To die for God is to die a hero of the faith. We are to love God more than anything, including our children. If God tells you to take your family to Afghanistan you do it.

    1. So you’re cool taking your kids somewhere they could be raped, tortured, and murdered.

      Says a lot about you, none of it good.

  10. Your humour says a lot about you Jim, a true coward. Passive aggression reeks through, having your cake and eating it too eh!

    1. At least I can put my name on my words, mot hide behind a fake name.

      That’s something cowards like you do,

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