Tense. Breath-taking. If a little slow in places.
A veteran tracker (Jeremy Renner) helps an inexperienced FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) investigate the murder of a young Native American woman.
I love it when you go into a movie not knowing anything. All I had was the endless #WindRiver hashtags filling my Twitter feed. My curiousity peaked.
Thank God for Twitter. A riveting and well-acted thriller.
As soon as I saw, “Written and directed by Taylor Sheridan”, I knew I was in for a treat. The man responsible for Hell or High Water. One of my favourite films of 2016 (Has it really been a year, already?)
Now helming a new favourite for this year.
Jeremy Renner was brilliant. I’ve always felt he was an underrated actor.
The role of Cory Lambert was perfectly suited for him. A man desperate to keep himself to himself BUT also wanting to do the right thing.
The pace was set on the slow burner with Sheridan teasing titbits of Lambert’s past. The questions already mounting; Why the outback? Why is he so good with that rifle? Why does he have such a strained relationship with his ex-wife?
The awkward atmosphere and idle chit chat as the pair force conversation while Lambert waits for his son.
A man plagued by his own demons. Punishing himself with a life in the wilderness. That was until he discovered a body in the snow . . .
Olsen was excellent as the inexperienced agent Banner. Her arrival summed up the character perfectly as she stood in the snow ill-equipped with a trouser suit.
The only available agent in the area. Sent all the way from Nevada. BUT despite her naivety, Banner’s determination to crack the case and deliver justice for the victim sparked something in Lambert.
The Avengers duo were fantastic together. They had great chemistry and made the dynamic really work.
“We have six people covering an area the size of Rhode Island”.
Sheridan was even able to throw in some social commentary at the hypocrisy of the law enforcement.
Banner’s heated debate with a coroner spoke volumes. Refusing to class the crime as a homicide. The outcome determining how much support the FBI would provide. Mental.
Ben Richardson’s cinematography was brilliant. With one frame, he made the snowy outback look beautiful and inviting. BUT with the next; deadly and haunting.
You couldn’t hide that Neo-Western feel. The Wind River reservation nothing more than a place of a desolation full of lost souls and dangerous ones.
The isolation and loneliness being the real killer.
A simple enquiry turned into a mad shoot out with a group of small-time meth-heads. Nail-biting.
I liked how Sheridan tied in the Native American community as the Crowheart clan struggled to come to terms with the loss of their daughter.
Heartbreaking. Banner’s attempt to console the mother delivered an unsettling scene as she walked in on the poor woman cutting herself. That bleak feeling of helplessness.
BUT as much as I was enjoying the film, the case itself felt a little generic and tame. I kept wondering what all the hype was about.
That was until the final act. The last 20 minutes. Just . . . Woah. No spoilers.
Heart in mouth stuff. My grumbling was soon put on hold as everything came to a tense and exhilarating climax.
There was even a stellar cameo from Jon Bernthal that came out of the blue. Another underrated actor bossing another supporting role.
As much as I picked at the pacing, (ironically) this film could have been longer.
If anything, Wind River could have done with fleshing things out a little more. Especially with Olsen and Renner’s partnership. I loved how Banner’s presence brought out Lambert’s anguish. Finally cracking his hard shell and allowing him to share his pain. Not enough!
The sombre finale hit home and delivered some shocking statistics on the number of missing Native American women in the States.
Fans of Hell or High Water or gritty bleak thrillers will enjoy this all the same. It wasn’t perfect BUT a rewarding effort all the same.
One I actually liked (I know, I bet you’re thinking. Jeez, he picked at this and he liked it?)
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