Cowboy Frank Hopkins (Viggo Mortensen) and his mustang, Hidalgo, became legends in the 1880s when they thundered across the Great Plains winning more than 400 endurance races. This epic action–adventure is loosely based on their greatest race, the Ocean of Fire. A wealthy sheik (Omar Sharif) sees Hopkins riding Hidalgo in the Wild West Show and persuades him to enter a thousand-year-old, 3,000-mile survival race across the brutal terrain of the Arabian Desert. Hopkins becomes the first Westerner to compete in this extremely dangerous, and often deadly, contest. He is resented by the Arabian racers, who offer him money to quit, tell him he has no chance to win, and even make several attempts on his life. Hopkins finds himself alone in the desert trying to figure out who he is and what it will take to survive.
Hopkins drifts along drinking and brawling until he comes to grips with himself and becomes a powerful force for justice, helping those who are hurting. Hidalgo paints religion merely as cultural heritage. People in the film do not live according to the faith they are said to possess. A “Christian” woman cheats, lies, pays assassins to kill people and offers to have sex with a man in exchange for a personal favor. In addition to these elements and some bad language, there is a lot of adventure violence with humans beheaded, impaled, stabbed and shot. One scene showcases the genocide of an entire village. In the end, the movie applauds personal growth but fails to distinguish true faith from culture.