Skip to main content

"Wind River" is a Bleak Crime Story With Thrilling Performances By Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen: Review

Image result for wind river movieFilm Review: Wind River


Ah, the kinds of movies Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen can make when they aren't busy playing Avengers. Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch have teamed up for another movie, one that is about as far from a superhero movie as I can imagine; a depressing indie set on an impoverished Indian reservation. Wind River is a masterfully written look at a largely overlooked sector of American life that features several powerhouse performances. From the writer of Sicario and Hell or High Water comes another tale about the intersection of poverty and crime in America.

Image result for wind river movieWritten and directed by Taylor Sheridan, Wind River is a dark crime thriller set on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. Jeremy Renner plays Corey Lambert, an agent of the US Fish and Wildlife Service who while hunting for a mountain lion that has been killing livestock on the Reservation stumbles across a dead body lying in the snow. The body is that of 18-year old Natalie Hanson (Kesley Chow), who died after running barefoot in the snow for miles after being assaulted. FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen, also wonderful in an entirely different way in Ingrid Goes West) is called in from Las Vegas to investigate, although only because she was the closest agent to the scene. She's young and clearly out of her element; she arrives in sub-zero temperatures without even a pair of gloves to protect her from the cold. Banner is aware of the slim chance the murder has of ever being solved (drugs and crime are prevalent on the 3,500 square mile reservation) so she enlists the help of Lambert and the tribal police chief played by Graham Greene to track down the murderer.

The actors are great. Renner hasn't had a role this good in years. He plays the hunter hardened by tragedy with empathetic gloom. He plays off Olsen nicely, especially in the scene where Renner opens up to Olsen about his past that serves as a powerful reminder of how great both actors are. Also outstanding are Greene as the deadpan policeman, Julia Jones as Lambert's ex-wife and Gil Birmingham as Natalie's grieving father. Birmingham (also great in Hell or High Water) only has two scenes, but they will be the scenes that Wind River is most remembered for. There's also an extended flashback of Natalie and her boyfriend (Jon Bernthal) that is tender and, ultimately, heartbreaking. 

Wind River is brutal. It's unrelentingly dark, and that will turn a lot of people off from it. But Sheridan is such a great writer that the bleakness is not without purpose. Although Wind River is very much a crime thriller and easily could have fallen into the generic whodunit model, Sheridan fills the film with pointed statements about the conditions of life for Native Americans and the cycle of injustice. One of the first scenes in the movie features of a wolf menacingly staring down a group of sheep on a ranch. The wolf is then shot dead by a character we come to learn is Lambert. In that scene, we learn everything about we need to know about the world of Wind River

As tight as the screenplay is, there was still one specific detail that didn't make sense to me. I can't reveal what it is without giving away the whole story, but it bothered me. Some of the music (the score was by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis) felt too heavy in some of the more intimate scenes of the movie. It also has a pretty conventional way of shooting the snowy landscapes. But this is Sheridan's first time directing one of his screenplays and, with time, he will probably become as sharp in those aspects of filmmaking as he is with his screenplays. 

What did YOU think of Wind River? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ranking the "Mission: Impossible" Films Worst to Best

The Mission: Impossible movies, based on the 1966-73 television series, are about Ethan Hunt and the Impossible Mission Force doing something that seems impossible at first, but always ends up being possible. Tom Cruise stars in all the films as Ethan, and other members of the team are Luther (Ving Rhames) and Benji (Simon Pegg). I like the Mission: Impossible movies because each film has a different director and thus each one has their own distinctive feel. Sure, there are a couple of constants (Cruise is in them all, they all are spy/action movies, and they all have people wearing masks - a nod to the TV show), but going into a Mission: Impossible movie you are never quite sure what you are going to get. Sometimes it's a silly fun spy franchise, other times it feels like nothing more than an excuse for Tom Cruise do to some sort of crazy stunt. Since the first film was released in 1996, there have been five movies, with a sixth on the way. Here's how I would rank the movies …

Hollywood Has Failed Kate Hudson: A Report After Watching All Her Movies

Why has Kate Hudson been in so few good movies? 17 years later, the actress is still waiting to make good on the promise she showed in Almost Famous. 
When Kate Hudson first appears about 20 minutes into Almost Famous, the tenor of the movie changes. She's like a lightning rod of energy that once Cameron Crowe's camera finds her, it has no choice but to tell her story. She radiates off the screen, demanding you pay attention to her performance. And what a performance it is. Intense vulnerability hidden behind a vivacious exterior of fur-lined coats and round sunglasses. It's such a great performance and a great movie that I was shocked to look at Kate Hudson's profile on Metacritic sometime in late 2015 (when I first saw Almost Famous) and find merely one movie since Almost Famouswith a green Metascore. Could it be possible that an actress as talented as Kate Hudson has only been in two good movies in the past decade and a half? How had out of the 20-something movies sh…

Film Review: Muppets Most Wanted

Muppets Most Wanted
For my first post, I'll be reviewing "Muppets Most Wanted". Let me start off by saying that I am a huge Muppet fan, and have been since I was very young.  So, needless to say, I had very high expectations for their eight feature film. And I am happy to say, I was not disappointed. "Most Wanted" picks up after the events of the 2011 reboot, "The Muppets", and follows the gang as they embark on a World Tour. Oh, and Kermit is replaced by his evil doppelgänger, Constantine, but that's a very minor subplot and doesn't really go anywhere.
"The Muppets" was a nostalgia-filled reintroduction to these characters, who hadn't been on the big screen since 1999's "Muppet From Space". The reboot hit all the right notes to get people to care about these characters again. And it worked perfectly for that movie. But now Muppets fans, like myself, wanted the next one to be a classic Muppet adventure, and not as …