Hidalgo | Chicago Reader

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This big-budget western bears a striking resemblance to the recent Tom Cruise vehicle The Last Samurai, though it's more fun and less pretentious. Viggo Mortensen plays a half-breed cowboy who, traumatized by the massacre at Wounded Knee, drinks too much and performs horse tricks in the Wild West show starring Buffalo Bill Cody (the great J.K. Simmons). An Arabian envoy invites the young horseman to compete in a 3,000-mile survival race with a $10,000 prize, so Mortensen sets off for the Middle East to “recapture his soul” (as a wise old Indian puts it), assisted by his preternaturally smart mustang, Hidalgo. Joe Johnston directed, though the biggest attraction is Shelly Johnson's desert cinematography; with Omar Sharif as a sheikh jealously guarding his only daughter from the studly cowpoke. PG-13, 136 min.

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