Warhorse One (2023) – A Review

Movie Bunker Score:

Warhorse One

Release: 2023-06-30Genre: WarDuration: 120 minsBudget: $ 0

A gunned down Navy SEAL Master Chief must guide a child to safety through a gauntlet of hostile Taliban insurgents and survive the brutal Afghanistan wilderness.

Warhorse One

Release: 2023-06-30Genre: WarDuration: 120 minsBudget: $ 0

A gunned down Navy SEAL Master Chief must guide a child to safety through a gauntlet of hostile Taliban insurgents and survive the brutal Afghanistan wilderness.

The world of cinema has an incredible ability to leave a lasting impact on its audience, even in the case of a movie that might be considered less than stellar. “Warhorse One,” a combat film centered around an extraction mission in Afghanistan, falls into this category. While the film has its drawbacks, it manages to strike an emotional chord with viewers, largely thanks to the heart-wrenching performance of Athena Durner, who portrays the young and vulnerable character, Zoe.

Plot Summary

Set amidst the chaos of Afghanistan’s fall, “Warhorse One” follows the journey of Sgt. “Warhorse One,” portrayed by Johnny Strong, a veteran actor known for his roles as soldiers in various productions. The movie revolves around his mission to rescue Americans trapped in the war-torn nation.

The film begins with the devastating aftermath of an attack on a family of American missionaries, leaving only five-year-old Zoe as the lone survivor. As the central objective of the mission, her innocent and shocked demeanor immediately captures the attention of the audience, compelling them to emotionally invest in her safety.

Character Analysis

Sgt. “Warhorse One” emerges as the lead character, though both Warhorse One and Zoe lack fully developed character arcs. Nonetheless, Athena Durner’s portrayal of Zoe breathes life into her one-dimensional character, evoking empathy and concern from the viewers. Sometimes, the success of a film heavily depends on casting, and in this case, Durner’s performance proves that she was the perfect choice for this role.

The Mission Begins

The movie kicks into high gear as Warhorse One’s chopper is shot down during the mission. Despite the perilous situation, he quickly regains his composure and gears up to continue the mission. However, the narrative takes an interesting turn when he disobeys orders and takes matters into his own hands by eliminating some of the Taliban members responsible for the attack on his chopper.

Zoe’s Trauma and Relationship with Warhorse One

Amidst the turmoil, Zoe’s traumatized state becomes evident, raising concerns about potential long-term effects such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Despite her ordeal, she displays more timidity than shock, and she hesitates to trust Warhorse One, particularly due to the intimidating presence of his silenced rifle.

Their relationship forms the emotional core of the film, with Warhorse One assuming the role of protector and guardian. Throughout their journey, they face numerous life-threatening situations, fostering moments of bonding and learning between the seasoned soldier and the young girl.

The Journey to Safety

The wilderness of Afghanistan becomes their battleground as they navigate through hostile territory, dodging danger at every turn. Their relentless pursuers, the murderous Taliban, add to the suspense, creating an intense atmosphere. While the film includes typical Afghan combat tropes, such as the omnipotent SEAL with an endless supply of ammunition, the settings sometimes evoke memories of iconic films like “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

Familiar Tropes and Challenges

Unfortunately, the film’s over-familiarity with combat film clichés and the occasionally cumbersome editing result in a somewhat slow-paced narrative. The attempt to infuse energy and urgency through excessive editing only draws attention to the film’s pacing issues, leaving the viewers wanting more in terms of engagement.

The Power of the Little Girl

Despite the film’s limitations, Athena Durner’s portrayal of Zoe undoubtedly steals the show. Her character’s presence carries significant emotional weight, overshadowing even Johnny Strong’s performance as Warhorse One. The veteran actor’s experience in playing soldiers is evident, but the film truly comes alive when Durner graces the screen.


In conclusion, “Warhorse One” may not be a flawless cinematic experience, but it manages to tug at the heartstrings of its audience due to Athena Durner’s touching performance. The movie provides moments of tension and emotion, making it a worthwhile watch for fans of combat-themed films.


  1. Is “Warhorse One” suitable for all audiences?
    • The movie has an R-rating due to its graphic violence and some profanity, making it unsuitable for younger audiences.
  2. Who are the main cast members in the film?
    • The movie stars Johnny Strong as Sgt. “Warhorse One,” Athena Durner as Zoe, and Raj Kala in a supporting role.
  3. Does “Warhorse One” accurately depict the situation in Afghanistan?
    • While the film explores the context of the war, it’s important to remember that it takes creative liberties and may not fully reflect the complexities of the real-world situation.
  4. What sets “Warhorse One” apart from other combat films?
    • The standout element of the film is Athena Durner’s touching performance as Zoe, which adds emotional depth to the narrative.
  5. Who directed “Warhorse One”?
    • The movie was co-directed by Johnny Strong and William Kaufman.
Warhorse One Review


Warhorse One may have its flaws as a combat film set in Afghanistan, but it showcases the enduring power of cinema in delivering emotional impact. The movie’s main strength lies in Athena Durner’s heart-rending portrayal of Zoe, the young girl in mortal peril. Despite the slow pacing and overused combat film tropes, Durner’s performance shines through, captivating the audience and leaving a lasting impression. The film serves as a reminder that even in the face of cinematic shortcomings, a powerful performance can elevate a movie and resonate with viewers on a deep emotional level.