I often have tempered expectations for a Jeremy Renner led movie. He is a stellar actor, but tends to excel in more subtle understated characters, he’s not as great in dynamic roles. That is what made him perfect for Arrival, and perfect for this. But before we get into the movie, let’s take a quick stroll through the writer/director, Taylor Sheridan’s writing credits on IMDB-
Sicario, 2015, 94% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
Hell or High Water, 2016, 97% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
Wind River, 2017, 86% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
Wind River is his directorial debut, but I just wanted to point out the stunning track record Sheridan has had in the past couple of years. He has been on a “modern western” hot streak the likes of which I haven’t experienced. I think “western” in general has been a little bit of a four letter word in Hollywood recently. It denotes dated and cheesy, but with Sheridan and the success of Westworld, the genre is having a bit of a moment.
Wind River tells a story “inspired by real events” of a young girl who goes missing, and is later found killed, on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. From there, young FBI agent Jane (Elizabeth Olsen) comes to town and teams up with local cops and game tracker Cory (Renner) to solve the murder. Tense, gripping, and emotionally stirring, Wind River thrives in the reveal, utilizing a flashback sequence without disrupting the flow of the resolution (not an easy feat). Without spoiling, the most exciting scene to me is not the eventual shoot out, but the lead up.
The characters are given just enough backstory to keep you invested, without dominating the story. This is a snapshot of one event that sheds light on the issues faced on Indian Reservations to this day, and really paints them in a grim reality. It managed to keep me engaged and enlighten me, while keeping the excitement of a thriller.
The minimal cast really gave each actor the chance to make an impact, particularly Gil Birmingham, Graham Green, and one of the local deputies who I am doing a huge disservice by not being confident on his character’s name, but after scouring IMDB I am pretty sure it was Ian Bohen. Any scene with Birmingham and Renner particularly stuck out to me, they managed to act the hell out of some silence.
Sheridan is still proving himself as a director, but this was a strong start. The writing was not as strong as High Water to me, with some lines seeming a little over the top, but overall, there was not a second where I was removed from the reservation. By the end of the movie, I was starting to feel isolated and cold, which was exactly the intention. 9/10