Friday, August 25, 2017

Movie Review: "Wind River" (2017)

Director: Taylor Sheridan
Year: 2017
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 47 minutes

A predator hunter who works for the Wyoming Department of Fish and Wildlife teams up with an FBI agent to help her investigate the rape and possible homicide of a young woman discovered on the Wind River Native American reservation.

If you need a dark, gritty crime thriller, look no further than Taylor Sheridan since he seems to be a master of them. "Wind River" is Sheridan's second directorial effort, his first being the film "Vile" from 2011. He may be a director, but we are more familiar with Sheridan because of his writing skills. This is his third screenplay, his first being "Sicario," which was one of our favorite films of 2015, and the second being "Hell or High Water," which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. His latest story focuses on a man named Cory Lambert, played by Jeremy Renner, who works for the Wyoming Department of Fish and Wildlife hunting predators that have killed local livestock. While out tracking mountain lions on the Wind River Native American reservation, he discovers the body of a young woman lying in the snow. The FBI is called, but they only send one agent to investigate, Jane Banner, played by Elizabeth Olsen, who seems rather ill prepared for the winter weather conditions of Wyoming. Since Cory knows the land and knows how to track, Jane asks Cory to help her in her investigation. He readily accepts this task because it turns out the deceased young woman was a friend of his daughter Emily, who had been killed a few years earlier under similar tragic circumstances. Cory has no intention of letting this woman's attacker get away.

We absolutely loved this movie. From the slow-burning, completely engrossing investigation early on to the exciting, action-packed finale, every harrowing moment of "Wind River" is beautifully brutal. As we mentioned, this is a gritty crime thriller with a little bit of mystery, but it also feels like a modern day dramatic western. It is shot against the gorgeous snowy scenery of what is supposed to be rural Wyoming with miles of awe-inspiring mountains, trails, and pastures covered by a thick white blanket of snow. Ben Richardson's cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. It is an interesting juxtaposition to have a story that displays so much tragedy and cruelty, showing the ugly, horrific nature of humans and what awful atrocities can happen in a place that is often so majestic. We remained enthralled by this movie from start to finish.

Jeremy Renner is fantastic as a modern cowboy type. Cory is a man who has been dealing with a tragedy of his own for years and has had to learn to cope with his sadness. Renner offers such a wide range of acting abilities as he shows strength and even a bit of vulnerability. Elizabeth Olsen is great as well. As Jane, she is a woman who is a bit out of her element but eventually shows she is extremely capable at her job. She has a strong desire to find the perpetrators and to see that justice is swift and mighty. One of the biggest stars of the film for us, however, is Gil Birmingham. If you don't know this man by name, you should. Birmingham plays Martin, the father of the deceased young woman found in the snow. At one particular point in the blink of an eye, Birmingham goes from stoic to emotionally broken in a scene that rendered us blubbering messes. His passion is palpable, and we feel his grief immensely. Finally, Graham Greene gives a wonderful performance as Ben, one of the local reservation sheriffs aiding in the investigation. All around, the acting is stellar.

"Wind River" is a movie that allows the audience to experience so many different emotions while watching it. It is tragic and depressing, but at the same time, it is exciting and powerful. We absolutely adored this flick, and if it is playing anywhere near you, we highly recommend checking it out. Taylor Sheridan continues to impress us with his sharp-tongued words and poignant modern day western scripts, and now, he's crafted something even seasoned filmmakers spend their entire lives trying to attain. We hope his hot streak continues.

My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~85%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

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