Unless Part Two of Kevin Costner‘s Horizon (Warner Bros., 8.16) somehow improves upon the sluggish initial installment and delivers something that feels whole and alluring and thematically fulfilling, he should probably forget about Parts 3 and 4.

If, God forbid, the next chapter makes the same kind of mistakes that Chapter One did — if it kinda moseys around and half-assedly hopscotches and fritters away story tension — the wisest course (and I’m saying this from the core of my heart) will be to cut bait and let it go.

Because no one will want to even think about the last two installments, much less pay to see them.

Let’s face it — a second Horizon wipeout is certainly possible. If audiences blow it off…well, I’ll be sorry again. I want the opposite to happen, of course, but there’s an odd whiff in the air.

It really and truly breaks my heart to say this. I love Costner as a man of character, consequence and sincerity, and I truly worship some of the films he’s directed and starred in. Open Range especially.

So I really hope to God that Chapter Two brings the magic, in which case no one will be happier than myself.

Before I saw Chapter One in Cannes I wanted it to play like Open Range: Westward Ho The Wagons. Alas…

No 2024 film has bummed me out worse than Horizon, Chapter One did. If on my way out of the Salle Agnes Varda a friend had offered a couple of snorts of Vietnamese heroin, I would have followed him right into the bathroom.

And by the way, Horizon costar Michael Rooker doesn’t seem to understand what happened with this unfortunate effort.

One, “real cinema” in the classic western mode, especially when you’re talking about three effing hours, is about delivering a solid, well-strategized, self-contained story with emotional currents. It needs to deliver a beginning, a middle and hopefully a bull’s-eye ending. Horizon Chapter One doesn’t do that. It just plants seeds by introducing characters along with the beginnings of six or seven story lines. In so doing it refuses to deliver a movie for anyone looking to enjoy a serious, nutritional, stand-alone meal right then and there.

Two, Rooker’s statement that Horizon‘s opener “tells a story where you learn about the people and grow to like them or hate them”…that doesn’t happen either. Again, it’s too all-over-the-place, too meandering, too unconcerned with classic narrative strategy.

Three, big movies these days are not about Tik-Tok sensibilities. They’re not about 90 minutes and out. They’re about running times of 130 to 150 minutes and people like me glancing at our watches three or four times before it’s half over.

Think of the huge, sprawling, emotional story that Red River told, and it did so in 133 minutes

No good movie is too long, and no bad movie is too short.