Wind River Review

Wind River is a 2017 American neo-Western murder mystery film directed by Taylor Sheridan, starring Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Gil Birmingham and Graham Greene. The story follows a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tracker and an FBI agent, respectively, who try to solve a murder on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming.


Positives:

  • Terrific performances
  • Good story
  • Great cinematography
  • Terrific score
  • Great characters
  • Intense action
  • Good writing

Negatives:

  • n/a

Plot:  While hunting a mountain lion, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tracker Cory Lambert discovers the dead body of a young woman.  This prompts an investigation in which FBI agent Jane Banner is dispatched.  Together, the two work together to solve the mystery. The story is a bit of a slow build but it does a great job of establishing the characters and setting.  It isn’t an original concept but what we get is a well-written narrative that slowly begins peeling back the layers to create a lot of intrigue. There is this subplot with Cory where his daughter had suffered a similar fate, so there’s the emotional investment in his story.  The big reveal and climax is actually pretty intense followed up with an emotionally powerful ending. (4 out of 5)

Characters: Jane Banner (Renner) is a FBI agent and a strong female protagonist and it’s clear that she’s outside of her element.  Cory Lambert (Jenner) is a tracker and a great character.  He’s still dealing with the loss of his daughter years prior.  I like the chemistry between the characters.  It isn’t romantic, but there’s this certain amount of respect between them.  They have these really good moments together where they reveal their vulnerabilities.  Another great character is Sheriff Ben (Greene), he’s laid back, has some witty lines and is just an all around likable guy. There’s also Martin (Birmingham) whose daughters death is the main story they’re trying to solve.  Martin appears to be a hardened man but does show a lot of depth when it comes to his losses.  I appreciated his scenes with Cory.  The other characters do a good job and help round out the roster. (4 out of 5)

Cast: Jeremy Renner is just awesome in this movie. He has that likable guy quality about him and you can see the Hawkeye peeking through here and there. Elizabeth Olsen is a talented actress and she’s just great.  Love how Renner and Olsen play off each other, and that chemistry that they have in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films is apparent here.  So many movies put a pretty face in a position of authority and it hardly works. But casting Olsen works as she’s a rookie agent so she’s unsure of herself. Loved Gil Birmingham and Graham Greene’s performances.  Loved the scenes with Renner and Birmingham.  Other supporting performances include Jon Bernthal, Julia Jones, Kelsey Chow, Graham Greene, Martin Sensmeier, Tyler Laracca, Gerald Tokala Clifford, James Jordan, Eric Lange, Ian Bohen, Hugh Dillon, Matthew Del Negro, Teo Briones, Tantoo Cardinal, Apesanahkwat, and Althea Sam. (5 out of 5)

Visuals: This is just a beautifully shot movie.  The wide shots of the snowy landscapes, the mountains all give the film a sense of tranquility.  Also, there is this sense of isolation when the characters are in the wilderness.  The action sequences are done well enough to keep them intense. (3 out of 5)

Score: The music is just wonderfully done, especially when it has the subtle focus on the piano and string instruments. Look, I’m a sucker for string instruments, okay.  I appreciate how they manage to combine with the piano ques to express emotion. Nick Cave and Warren Ellis just give a brilliant musical composition. (4 out of 5)

Writing:  Sheridan wrote the film Hell or High Water and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, especially when it comes to the focus of characters.  I love Sheridan’s direction with the film.  It’s not action packed or boring, but maintains a good atmosphere around its characters.   While reading up on the movie I learned that it takes inspiration from events that actually happen in which kidnapping, rape, and murder of young women are prominent in that region with the Native Americans and I think the writing does a great job of telling this story. There are some pretty powerful moments in this movie and they are done rightfully so.  By the end of it, I was tearing up.  (4 out of 5)


The Verdict: In the end, Wind River is just a great movie.  If you’re looking for an action based thriller.  You will not find it here.  But if you’re into great performances, good characters, great scenery, and good writing, this movie is definitely for you.  Wind River gets 4 out of 5.

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