We’ve reviewed some of Taylor Sheridan’s Western or semi-Western films on this blog, the likes of 1883 and 1923. Wind River in 2017, which he wrote and directed, was perhaps at the outer edges of the Western genre, more of a police procedural really, but it is set in winter Wyoming, has an Arapaho hero in a Stetson who’s a good shot and eventually has a shoot-out with the bad guys, and the picture generally has some decent Western credentials. So I watched it.
Jeremy Renner (Wood Hite in The Assassination of Jesse James… and to be Doc Holliday in the forthcoming Doc) is a military sniper-like hunter Cory Lambert, who shoots predators, i.e. animals which have the temerity to hunt prey to eat, such as introduced sheep. He has a tragic past, as is gradually revealed. When Natalie, a local teenager he knew (Kelsey Asbille Chow, Monica Dutton in Sheridan’s Yellowstone) is found dead in the snow, and, it will turn out, raped, he teams up with FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) to solve the crime. He is wise in the ways of the West and she is from Las Vegas and a Western neophyte (she hasn’t even brought winter wear with her) so it’s a classic pairing. Luckily there’s no romance, which I feared obligatory, and they work well, and laconically together.
Strong characters, I thought, were Gil Birmingham as the murdered Natalie’s father Martin, at first stoical then crumbling, and Graham Greene as the dry and wry tribal police chief who’s seen it all before yet still cares.
Probably the star of the show is the landscape, shot on the Wind River Reservation and in Wyoming and Utah by Taylor pard Ben Richardson (Yellowstone, 1883, 1923). You can feel the cold.
The villains are pretty loathsome and get their just deserts (lead in most cases, the Wyoming winter in one). It’s quite Western in that way.
I didn’t think this movie would set the prairies on fire but it’s good enough, and well enough acted, produced and directed, to warrant a look. It’s on Netflix, or was it Prime, at the mo, here in France anyway.
Buy Jeff’s new Western novel!