Review: Wind River (No Spoilers)

By Tim

When I walked into Wind River, I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t even know this film existed until I got to the movie theater. I had originally planned on watching Atomic Blonde but instead chose this. The poster intrigued me. Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch together in a film once again? The stars alone made me buy the ticket and check it out. Not only that, but I learned this was a movie by Taylor Sheridan? The man behind Hell or High Water and Sicario? Of course this needed my full attention.

Reunited once more!

What I loved about the film:

  • Firstly, the movie was excellent in its pacing. I never felt bored during a single minute of the film. The strong exposition is only enhanced by the amazing narrative of the middle and the climax is incredible along with a great resolution. Wind River does a great job at making sure you’re on the edge of your seat all the time. You really don’t know what to expect and this movie captures dread and the macabre in ways most horror films wish they could.
  • The film has amazing themes of survival, justice, grief, and the cultural conflicts between Americans and Native Americans. The Indian Reservation is a sordid place that’s juxtaposed by the beautiful wilderness. It symbolizes how outsiders once took this beautiful land and turned into a hell for the native population of this country. The cultural conflict was also something I enjoyed between Elizabeth Olsen’s character Agent Banner and her relations with the people who live on the Res. The movie doesn’t push these themes in your face, they are subtle and in the moments they are grandiose they make a staunch impact to the audience. Overall they managed to take important and cliched themes into something more enlightening all the while delivering a powerful message.

Great performances from both leads!

  • Wind River is shot beautifully. I loved the long landscape shots they did of the wilderness and the beautiful lighting. They really did capitalize on the beauty of the location.
  • I appreciated that this movie had violence that wasn’t exaggerated but still felt real. Just like in Sicario or Hell or High Water, Wind River’s violence is numbing to watch. Most of the violence on movies are extremely over the top exaggerated with lots of blood, gore, and people flying all over the place after getting shot. In this movie there’s none of that but they somehow still make the violence feel visceral and raw. I have a high tolerance for violence but this movie made me really feel the impact of the blows. This was further enhanced by the tension building done so well by the director. Imagine a champagne bottle shaken up rigorously waiting to explode in your face. That’s what this film feels like leading up to the action, it’s amazing and makes it interesting to watch. Sheridan is great at doing this and it really shows in Wind River.
  • The performances were great all around. The standout was Olsen but Renner also does a great job in his role as well. I wouldn’t say Oscar worthy performances here, but they are definitely great and do well in the movie.

What I disliked about the film:

  • I thought that Renner’s character Lambert could’ve used more development. He was such an interesting part of the film but he didn’t have much of anything to do in the movie which was a little disheartening to see. However this is more than made up for with Olsen’s Banner, I just wish personally there could’ve been more to Lambert than what we as the audience were given.

Such an interesting character, wish they explored him a bit more.

Overall, I thought Wind River had few faults and many amazing things going for it. It was a wonderful surprise and I appreciated all that it had to offer. It was a powerful film and not for the faint of heart. It is definitely something you should go into with a serious mindset and with a strong gut. With all the summer blockbuster fatigue it’s nice to see a great film pop up that doesn’t always deal with end of the world scenarios and instead deals with the lives of people who survive everyday.

I give Wind River a 9.5/10, a seriously great addition to Taylor Sheridan’s repertoire of stellar films and a great drama murder mystery. 

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