When working on the Wind River Indian Reservation, hunter Cory Lambert (Renner) discovers the body of a young Native American girl. A young and ambitious FBI Agent, Jane Banner (Olsen) is called in to help tribal police investigate the crime. Jane, Cory and Police Chief Ben (Greene) must work together to find out what happened to this young girl and bring the killer to justice, in whatever form that may take. Wind River is the directorial debut of writer Taylor Sheridan and stars Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Graham Greene, Kelsey Asbille, Julia Jones, Gil Birmingham, Martin Sensmeier and Jon Bernthal
Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen were fantastic as the leads in Wind River. Both actors had worked together previously in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War and have clearly developed a strong chemistry. Jeremy Renner might not have any success at being given the lead role in a franchise but with performances like the one he gives in Wind River he doesn’t need a franchise. He portrays a father dealing with losing his daughter and the toll that it has taken on him and his family. He has many great moments exploring the idea of coming to terms with the pain without truly achieving closure and how helping with this crime might somehow ease some of the pain. He has a strong character arc and gives a fantastic performance that I believe should see him get recognised with a best actor nomination. Elizabeth Olsen also offers the type of performance we have not seen from her yet as a young ambitious FBI Agent eager to help people. She has a great character arc as she matures with the situation around her. Olsen has some great scenes that demonstrate the range she has, going from emotional moments to dramatic action to defusing a hostile situation, she delivers such an incredible performance.
Taylor Sheridan may not be a household name but with his directorial debut he soon will be. Sicario and Hell or High Water were both highly regarded films written by Sheridan that bring to life modern style western movies with bank robbers and questionable law men. Wind River now presents a modern look at the classic Cowboys and Indians style of films, but still has many western elements. The story telling of Wind River is fascinating, in the way that we have seen plenty of “who done it?” crime thrillers before and movies where the protagonist must over come a harsh climate but the inclusion of the deeper themes is what elevates the movie. What he was able to do with the action also speaks volumes to his potential as a director, with one of the shootouts involving Jane not being about to see properly creating an intense moment not unlike the final scene in Silence of the Lambs. Sheridan’s other writing skill is how he avoids explaining the narrative through exposition, which leads to some amazing character development scenes, in particular between Renner and Olsen.
Like Sheridan’s previous films that explore deeper concepts of culture and people in America, in particular the frontier parts of America, Wind River takes on those same concepts but with Native Americans. One of the things I loved about Hell or High Water was how subtle it was when examining the effect the GFC had on that part of America and how the working class suffered. The way David MacKenzie incorporated the subtlety of these messages flows seamlessly throughout the movie that it does not become an over arching theme forced on the audience. Sheridan does not adopt the same level of subtlety in Wind River when dealing with the subject matter of the treatment of Native Americans. Instead, he highlights the way people on the reservations live and how crime has affected these areas. There is more of a shock factor to the way the Native Americans live and are treated. The statistic of sexual assaults on the reservations is a haunting factor and the way the young men struggle to fight their aggressions should shock audiences.
Taylor Sheridan talked in interviews about why he decided to direct Wind River and how it was an important story that had to be told his way out of respect for the subject matter. That is one thing he did do is show respect to the people who are affected every day by the crimes seen in Wind River. For a first time director I believe he did a great job, some of his style is a little rough but still offers an engaging movie. This has me anticipating his next directorial outing, as I believe that with a bit more practice, he could create something great.
Wind River may seem like s typical crime thriller but it feels like so much more, with great performances, a great script and incredible scenery it is a fantastic viewing experience. It delves into some darker subject matter making it more than a paint by numbers murder mystery and it will have an emotional impact on the audience. Wind River is a fantastic directorial debut for Sheridan and I can’t wait to see what he does next.
If you are like me and love the work of Taylor Sheridan then you will be immersed in Wind River. Fans of crime thrillers should also see it.
Wind River scores 8.5/10
Thanks for reading my review. Do you plan on seeing Wind River? Are you a fan of Taylor Sheridan? Let me know in the comment section below.
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