Wind River (2017)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Wind River</strong> (2017)

(Netflix Streaming, August 2018) Harsh, uncompromising but satisfying, Wind River is another success for writer/director Taylor Sheridan, who tackles the difficult subject of violence against native women in a thriller that pulls no punches. Jeremy Renner stars as a man with specific skills that become very useful once a murder is reported on a reserve—being a skilled tracker/hunter turns out to be essential when the FBI can’t be bothered to send more than a token junior agent. Directed soberly, Wind River does tackle difficult topics in discussing the way violence can strike “even the good kids” and the devastating legacy that such deaths can cause. At the same time, it’s a bit of a macho revenge tale in which the unknown assailants of a revolting crime and tracked, caught and made to suffer. I’m not overly bothered by the premise that sees a white man bring justice on native land—the film clearly shows the protagonist’s pre-existing sympathies for his native ex-in-laws, and the film does leave plenty of development for its native characters. Renner makes the most of his existing action persona, while Graham Greene is up to his usual high standards. Elizabeth Olsen feels-out of place, but that’s the point of the film. Kelsey Chow has a short but striking role. With Sicario and Hell and High Water, actor-turned-screenwriter Sheridan fast established himself as a writer to watch for mature character-driven thrillers of the sorts we’ve grown to miss in a fantasy-saturated cinema marketplace. With his directorial debut Wind River, he takes it to the next level—now let’s see what next he has in store.

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