Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1 Review


Rating: 3/5


Kevin Costner ditches “Yellowstone” for his longtime passion project: “Horizon: An American Saga”. A planned four part series begins with a handful of storylines happening at once. They all start in different states, where our characters are destined to end up in one spot: Horizon. This town will be settled by many groups of people, where a future that intertwines them all is inevitable. This multifaceted story takes place over a number of years as expansion in the American West is occurring around the time of the Civil War. 


I am a massive fan of Costner’s “Yellowstone” series. After the disappointing news of his exit on the show, I had even higher hopes that “Horizon” would be a hit. Based on the advertising for the film, it looked like a grand scale classic western that covers many different aspects of the time period. I was immediately hooked with the intriguing premise and stacked cast. I’d say the greatest accomplishment “Horizon” achieves is establishing a dense, rich world inhabited by many different characters. The setup for a great conclusion is undeniable. I am very excited to see where this story goes and the many possibilities it holds. Costner’s attention to detail is excellent. I loved experiencing a story where the characters are foraging a new life for themselves. The gritty nature of the unknown and the rugged landscape is a treat to behold. There are some breathtaking shots of the landscape in the American West. The colors pop on the big sky, diverse treescapes, beautiful mountains, and rugged dressings of the characters. I am very impressed with Costner’s passion for the western genre and his commitment to keeping it alive. 

But the aspect that excites me most about “Horizon” is the future stories. “Chapter 1” has lots of work to do in establishing the time period and characterizations. It then has to streamline all these stories into one concrete plot. I’m confident Costner has a plan to bring this to fruition and give audiences a story worth investing in. We are introduced to so many characters in this part of the story, each of them bringing something unique to the table. The first act showcases how brutal the west can be and has a visceral battle between the new inhabitants and Native Americans. This accompanied by an emotional score really got the film started nicely. We get to see some long, character driven moments that give viewers an insight into the motivations and complexities in each storyline. While they are a bit scattered for now, I look forward to seeing where they go in the next films. 


As passionate as Cosnter is about telling this story, I’m hoping he makes some adjustments in the next installments. I don’t have a lot of issues with the film, but a few large ones loom. The massive problem I currently have with the story is the unfocused narrative. There are far too many storylines going on at once. I can see the potential and vision Costner is trying to explore…but it’s amazing how little the different plots make sense with one another so far. They feel like completely different stories that switch around often enough to make the viewer confused as to how they intertwine. I’m shocked that the three hour runtime doesn’t mesh them very well yet. Costner had ample opportunities to make these stories feel more connected. Instead, there are too many scenes that go on for an unnecessarily long time. After the first act, the action dies down and the pacing really fizzles out. I believe the film should have either utilized the three hour runtime to connect the stories better or wait to introduce some of the characters in the next film. As of now, the story is overstuffed and unfocused. I really hope “Chapter 2” connects everything better because it is currently too messy. 


“Chapter 1” is an ambitious passion project for Kevin Costner. He puts his heart and soul into establishing a world once lived, inhabited by many different characters going on unique journeys across the old west. His cinematography is breathtaking and the story has potential. But an overstuffed plot that overlaps in confusing ways makes it hard to digest for now. Hopefully he streamlines everything in the next films because this first entry is a bit messy. Here’s to hoping “Chapter 2” course corrects and gives us the story we deserve. I have faith in you Kevin!