Movie Review: Wind River (2017)

The frontier. A wild, unpredictable, and untameable part of our world. As beautiful as it is dangerous. Something that Taylor Sheridan seemingly likes to explore in his scripts.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Wind River”.

Set in the cold mountains and forests of Wyoming, we follow an FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) as she has to investigate the death of a young woman with the help of a local tracker (Jeremy Renner). So now we have our murder mystery that isn’t just a murder mystery. Yes, the investigation is a big focus of the movie, but the plot is also largely about the exploration of this place and the people who live there. Like with the two previous movies written by Taylor Sheridan (“Sicario”, “Hell or High Water”), it sets up one basic plot, and then gives it a few extra layers to explore certain themes. So what we get here is a deep, suspenseful, emotional, haunting, and just overall intriguing story.

The characters in this are all layered, interesting, and feel quite real. Jeremy Renner plays Cory Lambert, the tracker tasked with helping out in this investigation. He’s a skilled hunter with a tragic past that gets explored in a very interesting way through the movie. And Renner is fantastic in the role, playing the character with a very understated sadness and intensity, this is the best performance I’ve seen from him. Elizabeth Olsen plays FBI agent Jane Banner. She’s a bit of a fish out of water in this, as she’s not used to the cold, unforgiving frontier. This doesn’t make her useless, as she shows herself as quite capable through the movie. She’s tough, but she also does have a more vulnerable side, which gives her some layers (which is important to have out in the cold). And Olsen is really good in the role. Next we have Gil Birmingham as the father of the dead girl. While we don’t get too many details on him as a character, seeing him in pain and trying to cope with his daughter’s death is utterly heartbreaking and makes him an interesting enough character. And Birmingham is great in the role. Then we get some supporting performances from Graham Greene, Julia Jones, Martin Sensmeier, Hugh Dillon, Eric Lange, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, and if you’ve read any other reviews of mine where they’ve been the listed composers, you should suspect that I loved their score for this. It’s eerie, dark, emotional, and haunting, perfectly capturing the feel of the area, while also working very well for the murder mystery plot of the movie. I am slightly biased towards their music, but I do genuinely think their compositions for this movie are fantastic.

As I’ve not so subtly alluded to, this movie was written and directed by Taylor Sheridan. I already liked the other movies he’s written, so I was curious to see how he’d do at directing. And I have to say that I am quite impressed. His direction is manages to be sweeping and ambitious, while still tight and intimate with the characters/situations. He also manages to build a lot of suspense throughout, especially during the final act where that tension escalates to a whole new level. But none of it ever feels Hollywood-ized, which feels quite fresh in our modern world. And the cinematography by Ben Richardson is pretty great.

This movie has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 87% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10.

“Wind River” is a fantastic little drama, and another great showcase for Taylor Sheridan’s writing. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, fantastic music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Wind River” is a 9,88/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Wind River” is now completed.

We’re going back to the wild frontier…

Movie Review: The Magnificent Seven (2016)

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Do I really need to say something? My love of westerns has been proclaimed on this blog so many times that it should be burnt into your brains by now. So yeah… let’s review a western.

Ladies and gents… “The Magnificent Seven”!

The town of Rose Creek is being held under the boot of the villainous Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). So it’s up to a band of badasses led by Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) to get over there to save the town and stop Bogue. It’s a tale that’s been told a million times. The plot in this movie does nothing new in terms of drama, but I didn’t really mind. You can tell that the plot here wasn’t meant to be an epic masterpiece that would grip us with it’s impressive dramatic heft. It’s just aiming to retell a classic plot for a newer generation without pandering to a certain demographic. And I thought the plot here was realy fun and pretty well realized.

The characters in this movie are all so fun and entertaining. Denzel once again knocked it out of the park, but there was never any doubt about that… it’s Denzel, he’s awesome! Chris Pratt was very likable and fun in his role as this gunslinger who likes card tricks and also being a little bit of a jerk. Ethan Hawke was great as troubled sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux (actual name, I love it). Byung-hun Lee played Ethan Hawke’s sidekick/friend and he was really cool in the movie. Manuel Garcia-Rulfo played the outlaw of the gang, Vazquez, and he was really fun. Martin Sensmeier played the native American man Red Harvest, and he was a badass. Then we have Vincent D’Onofrio as the human bear, Jack Horne… how do I put it? He was really over the top… and I fucking loved it. D’Onofrio is an actor who knows how to be over the top in a role in just the right way, and that is exactly what was shown here… and he was awesome. Peter Sarsgaard was just the right amount of slimeball as Bogue, and he did it very well. And Haley Bennett was great as this determined young woman that hires Chisolm to help the town out. Overall, the cast was really good.

The music in this movie went through some interesting developments. It was originally set to be composed by James Horner, who had begun working on it before filming even began. However he sadly passed away before it could be officially finished, so the task was given to Simon Franglen to finish it. And the score for this movie is great. Tense, exciting, fun… perfectly fitting for the movie, really elevating a lot of the scenes. What was also kind of fun was that they played the theme from the original “Magnificent Seven” during the end credits. So you could say that the music in this movie was quite… magnificent (*crickets*). Jokes aside, rest in peace Mr. Horner… you did great and you are missed.

This movie was directed by Antoine Fuqua, a director I’m a bit of a fan of. And he proved once again that he is a really good director. This movie looks terrific, some of the shots actually made me go “Wow!”. Also, the action here is pretty badass. When action is happening in this movie, it is fast-paced, intense, fun, and awesome! There are a few standout moments in this movie, and those moments are two pretty badass shootouts. This movie was also surprisingly violent for PG-13. I’m not saying that there was a ton of blood and gore, but it gets pretty violent for a PG-13 movie. I’m not saying it gets quite as brutal as “Casino Royale”, but it is still pretty violent.

This movie has gotten some pretty good reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 63% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 54/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

“The Magnificent Seven” is an incredibly fun western movie. Is it a mindblowing and dramatically impressive film? No, but that was never the point of this film. It has a fun plot, great characters, great performances, great music, great directing, and great action. Time for my final score. *Quick draws envelope*. My final score for “The Magnificent Seven” is a 9,54/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
seal-of-approval

My review of “The Magnificent Seven” is now completed.

More movies like this, please.