WIND RIVER Film Review (8/10)
Following ‘Sicario’ and ‘Hell or High Water’, Wind River is the 3rd in what writer/director Taylor Sheridan has called his trilogy about the American frontier. He wrote all three scripts, but this is the first of them he’s directed himself. Both ‘Sicario’ and ‘Hell or High Water’ received critical acclaim and certainly have their fans, but for me Wind River is by far the best of the three.
While out tracking, hunter Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner, ‘The Hurt Locker’) finds a young Native American girl dead in the snow. Being a small community with a small police force, the F.B.I. are called to assist with the investigation. Sent to help is agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen, ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’) who investigates the suspected murder with Cory’s local knowledge for guidance.
There are some fantastic performances in this movie. Renner is terrific as the local hunter. He seemed so natural in the role and totally convinced me that he was that character. He’s a small town quiet sort of guy who minds his own business and just does what he needs to do. The way Cory treated Jane was fully professional but with just a hint of romantic chemistry. I’d possibly argue that this is the best performance I’ve seen from him. At this stage if he were to get an Oscar nomination I wouldn’t be disappointed.
Olsen was really good as well. Her character has been sent from Las Vegas to this freezing location. She comes totally unprepared in terms of suitable clothing and is naive to her surroundings. She’s young and relies a lot on the help of others; but when it’s time to show who’s in charge she impressively steps up.
There were also a couple of good supporting roles for Gil Birmingham (Hell or High Water), as the grieving father of the dead girl; and Graham Greene (Dances with Wolves), as the local Sheriff.
Some people have called the location itself a character due to the major role it plays in the movie. The freeing temperature impacts on when and how people can do things. Add in the fact that the land is so vast and terrain difficult to travel without a snow buggy, and you can see how it could be a remote and lonely place to live.
The murder mystery element of the movie I really enjoyed. Although the structure of the film meant that at first we weren’t exactly sure of who they were talking about at times, as the story developed it all slotted into place and we were able to understand who people were and what had happened in the past that would come to be important later.
Some people may say the film is slow at times, and I agree. With this film however slow doesn’t necessarily mean boring. Given the location and the grief that’s being suffered, a slow pace actually feels right for the situation. There isn’t much to do there and so the pace of everything is slow. It does allow us time to reflect and think about the movie, which isn’t a bad thing.
The movie’s pace does pick up with some great action in the second half. One particular flashback scene started it off. This scene was truly intense – more so since we already knew what was going to happen. Yet, knowing what was going to happen made it no less horrific to witness. In a way it reminded me slightly of ‘Detroit’ where we were watching a wrong being committed but knew the victims could do little to stop it.
This led on to an amazing action sequence that was extremely violent. It caught me off guard because it was unlike anything we’d see to that point. I thought that was a good thing though as it fulfilled the vengeful feelings I had towards certain characters after what we had just witnessed previously. There was a great satisfaction about what was to follow.
One criticism I’ve heard relates to Renner’s role as a white man. For a film which is essentially a message to inform us of about disregard the government has towards Native American’s to this day, the fact that a white man is basically the hero of the movie has not gone down too well with some people. Personally it’s not something I considered while watching it, but to a certain extent I can understand why some people could be frustrated by his casting.
My only real criticism is that occasionally there was some shaky camera during conversations that became a tad distracting. Not a major problem but one I think was avoidable.
Going by the numbers it seems that Wind River hasn’t found an audience at the box office. Critics have praised it, but regular cinemagoers haven’t been going. As a result it probably won’t be showing for too long. It’s unfortunate, because it really is a great movie with one of the best performances I’ve seen all year coming from Renner. I would definitely recommend this movie and advise that you see it as soon as possible before it leaves cinemas.
My name is Scott Forbes. I’m from Aberdeen, Scotland. I started The Forbes Film Review as a fun way simply to share my passion for movies with some friends. It’s now become a hobby which allows me discuss the latest films with people from all over the world.