Kazakhstan’s official entry for this year’s Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Nomad (The Warrior) scarcely feels more authentically Kazakh than Borat. Not only are the three principal roles filled by two Americans and a Mexican, but the whole movie plays like a warmed-over Hollywood epic, all sweeping vistas, swelling music and melodramatic clichs. Set during the 18th century, Nomad follows the emergence of Mansur (Becker), a sultan’s son who fulfills a prophecy by growing up to unite the Kazakh people against the invading Jungars.
This is potentially mythic material, but Nomad has neither the formal heft nor the historical rigor to pull it off, and the uniformly flat performances preclude any emotional involvement in the story. Long, turgid stretches are punctuated by spasms of violence—the movie’s peculiar fixation with decapitation sets up its most laughable line of dialogue—and a clumsy love triangle climaxes with an entirely ridiculous scene in which the two men in question are made to fight to the death while masked. The original running time was apparently close to three hours, which accounts for occasional gaps in the story line, but in this case, less is definitely more. (Opens Fri; Click here for venues.) — Joshua Land