The Moya View

War Pony: Never Ever Going Off the Reservation

Momentum Pictures

Storyline via IMDB:

The interlocking stories of two young Oglala Lakota men growing up on the Pine Ridge Reservation.


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The eventually intertwining stories in Riley Keough’s and Gina Gammell’s War Pony have a heavy Reservation Dogs feel. War Pony has a more grim, grimy and tragic feel. The Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, home to the Lakota-Sioux, has one of the highest poverty rates and shortest life expectancies in the United States. Over 80 percent of adults are unemployed.

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The screenplay was written by Gammell with the cooperation of two Pine Ridge residents, Franklin Sioux Rob and Bill Reddy. The authenticity is layered in with actual location shooting and resident actors giving sincere, natural performances. It plays like a slacker comedy threatening to become tragic. So much of their daily lives revolves around the casual use of drugs and the constant side hustles needed for a subsistence existence. Death hangs over each adult character, a grim omen of these kids future fate.

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Keough and Gammell exploit these realities to puncture hope into these kids’ vision. It’s the only notes of comedy that filter through- the idea that they might beat the white man at his own game. One wants to avoid his poverty by selling poodle pups for a profit, the other aspires to be a better drug dealer. Neither gets anywhere. As the parents die and the white man proves the victor, they settle into a grim, gritty codependency that will be their only family.

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The old ways and mythology are mere echoes of more sacred and vital times. Horses gallop along horsepower that are dying relics. Unlike Reservation Dogs no soul warrior will appear to teach lore and provide guidance- just an old crazy Lakota man waiting to beam-up not to his ancestors but the aliens seeking to probe his body and collect his mind for study; imaginary buffalo will appear on the road obstructing any forward movement, and deer will collide with cars and not arrows.

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Time is inertia here. People languish in jail for lack of bail. It’s not clear if Halloween decorations were put up this year or years ago and just never put away.

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These kids will never win, but you root for them anyway, and feel their ennui and everyday tragedies.

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They’re both villains and victims. They exists in the in-between.

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War Pony’s ending is one of the better visual pranks I’ve seen on film. It mocks the Native American contribution to Thanksgiving lore, and puts it back in the hands of the Indians it properly belongs to.

War Pony gets a 3.5 out of 5 or a B+.

Momentum Pictures


Directed by

Written by

  • Riley Keough
  • Gina Gammell
  • Franklin Sioux Bob
  • Bill Reddy

Produced by

  • Riley Keough
  • Gina Gammell
  • Willi White
  • Bert Hamelinck
  • Sacha Ben Harroche
  • Ryan Zacarias
  • Salim El Arja
  • Bear Damen


  • Jojo Bapteise Whiting
  • Ladainian Crazy Thunder


David Gallego

Edited by

Music by

  • Christopher Stracey
  • Mato Wayuhi



  • Felix Culpa
  • Caviar

Distributed by

Momentum Pictures

Release dates

  • May 21, 2022(Cannes)
  • July 28, 2023(United States)

Running time

115 minutes[1]


United States



Momentum Pictures





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