Wind River (2017)
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The story is about a rookie FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) who teams up with a tracker/hunter (Jeremy Renner) with a tragic past in order to investigate the murder of a local girl on a remote Native American Reservation.
Sheridan has tackled themes surrounding the Native Americans before but with this latest one, it's not so much that he's preaching about it but he ties it into this entire fabric of community where you sense the clash between outsiders and locals, between whites and natives, so there's a level of frustration about that arises from this murder investigation that brings up all kinds of cultural suspicions, on top of which there's also a game of jurisdictions. It's a complex yet cleverly woven thriller that starts out as a whodunit and evolves into a thirst for retribution. And the fact that it's set in a very cold harsh environment just adds to the film's chilling effect.
In many ways, Elizabeth Olsen performs here like Jodie Foster's Clarice Starling where at some points you kinda know that Olsen's character may be out of her elements, but at the same time that factor actually gives her a good vantage point. Jeremy Renner plays his character like an old timer western hero who knows the ins and outs of everything, a man of few words but gets tough when needed. Their dynamic is not some kind of odd couple cop duo, this is more like each of them trying to prove themselves while bringing justice to the family of the unfortunate girl. And the way Sheridan crafts the mystery from a small radius to a much larger scheme is one that will have you hooked. "Wind River" is highly suspenseful, it's a perfect thriller.
-- Rama's Screen --
Renner and Olsen play a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tracker and an FBI agent, respectively, attempting to solve the murder of a young woman whose body is discovered by Renner under mysterious circumstances as he patrols the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming.
The film scrupulously avoids clichés and is tightly edited with nary a wasted moment, yet never feels rushed or artificial in performance or plot. Everyone and everything is there for a reason, and best of all, the audience is given credit for being able to keep up and connect the dots.
The violence, which is absolutely necessary, is kept at a bare minimum as a narrative device, explaining and clarifying rather than assaulting the senses.
Every character, even the most heinous, is portrayed as a fully developed human being rather than as stereotype.
We learn how the Native American culture is victimized in a way that takes us inside their world and their souls, but the journey is skillfully handled and never heavy handed.
The photography is perfectly rendered, celebrating the icy Wyoming scenery in a muted style consistent with the mood of the story.
Renner, Olsen and Greene are excellent and believable, but in no small way this is an ensemble piece whose potency and effectiveness derive from the palpable passion and belief of everyone in front of and behind the camera.
This is an engrossing story well worth your time and money, and kudos to everyone involved for having faith that a discerning audience will find and appreciate it.
I enjoyed it as much as, if not more than, Hell or High Water. Definitely more than Sicario.
The scenery, the score, the dialogue and the acting were all on point. Some of Jeremy Renner's best work. He's been spending so much time playing spy and superhero lately that I think people tend to forget that he was nominated for Hurt Locker and The Town. His performance here is even better.
Jeremy Renner plays Cory Lambert, a tracker who works for the Fish and Game Commission in Wyoming who gets caught up in the investigation of the murder of a young Native American woman on a local reservation during a series of brutal snowstorms. He partners with FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) as they try to navigate the elements and even the law as it pertains to the reservation itself and a very thin law enforcement department headed up by Gen (Graham Greene).
I know there is not much to the above summary, but that is all you really need to know about this film, besides the fact that I REALLY enjoyed it as one can do with the material involved. Make no mistake: this is a dark film that deals with very haunting subject matter, so there is quite a bit of weight to it, but Sheridan treats this story with the highest level of respect by allowing his very well written script to drive it while still shooting it beautifully. To see such beautiful landscaping (actually shot in Utah) take my breath away while still understanding the danger of what the elements bring from the wildlife to the weather and even the inhabitants add a great layer to the story, but what takes it to the next level is the score from Nick Cave and Warren Ellis (not THAT Warren Ellis) that frames each and every scene perfectly without giving what is coming up ahead.
From a performance standpoint, I really dug the way that both Renner and Olsen dialed it WAY back within their characters with Renner keeping Lambert simple and focused on the task at hand and Olsen showing how Banner is just trying to do the right thing while attempting to understand the situation she in AND asserting the authority she has representing the Bureau. Greene gives great balance and levity to their dynamic while keeping his character involved as a reminder of the heightened sensitivity of their situation.
The Weinsteins' eye for film strikes again here, and I am also looking forward to where Sheridan's career behind the camera goes as well. For this being the second time he has helmed a film, this is incredibly impressive and should at least be on your "need to check out" list if not all the way to "must see".
Coming from writing the likes of Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan is really making a career for himself. It's hard to imagine it's the same guy who made those short acting cameos in Veronica Mars back in the day, but Sheridan is separating himself from the pack in terms of his writing skills. I won't say that Wind River reaches the heights that either of his other two writing efforts did, but the sheer power of the subject matter of this film may take this film into Oscar season.
Jeremy Renner stars as Corey Lambert, a man with a tragic past, teams with Jane Banner (an FBI agent played by Elizabeth Olsen) to solve a murder. It's easy to label Banner as the "out of place woman who needs the help of a hardened man", because it can appear that way at first glance. But I'll view it as two people who cross paths with each other and end up working together to better their current situations. It also doesn't hurt that both Renner and Olsen have pre- established chemistry from the Marvel films, and dynamite together on screen.
However, I do believe that Sheridan could have done a slightly better job of directing the tone of Wind River. There were times where it seemed the actors were giving endearing performances and monologues, only to be sometimes interrupted by a subtle joke or a lighthearted comment. I think that just a minor change in direction of his actors would have changed those moments for the better. With that said, Sheridan's brutal touch of action when the film calls for it is impressive to say the least. It's those moments that helps put a realistic layer to Wind River.
Overall, Wind River is a grounded but moving take on murder, rape, and missing persons cases. Solid performances, sharp script, and nuanced storytelling, Wind River is a fascinating crime drama.
In the frosty Wind River Indian Reservation of Wyoming, the body an 18 year old Native American girl is discovered by Wildlife service agent Cory Lambett (Jeremy Renner). Lambett with his knowledge of the mountain assists foreign FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olson) to track down the killer, but also his own personal reasons wants to find the killer in an attempt to wrestle his own demons.
Inspired by true cases of missing native American girls, Wind River has cold hearted passion in its story-telling. A very melancholy murder mystery drama exploring grief and vengeance but also the neglect of the Native Americans in the mountain regions in the USA.
During a time this week while I was pondering the significance of different crime thrillers, with also the approach of the The Snowman in November, Wind River is real important stand out. The film itself although is about a murder is more centred on the atmosphere and location. Repetitive vibes of a hellish land resonate throughout the film. This mostly breathed life by the chilly aerial shots of the cold mountain land, identifying misery through the snow breeze and wind (an atmospheric format that was similar expressed in Hell or High Water). The most haunting aspect is the character brought to Wind River by Nick Cave and Warren Elis eerie soundtrack, echoing the dark past of the freezing land.
What leads us into the desolate mystery of Wind River is Jeremey Renner superb performance as the experienced hunter possessed by the past but also enriched with perception of his home land and its welcome. Renner very much appears as himself, however is a perfect casting choice with his neutral expression hiding his deeper emotions. Opposite is Elizabeth Olson, the most convincing FBI agent I've seen on screen for a while. But her city slicker style does not prepare her for the divergent law enforcement experience in the isolated Wyoming. These two leads are the perfect casting, with a enigmatic presence that makes you completely believe in them.
While Wind River has deeper meaning at its centre, Sheridan knows how to thrill his audience in quiet sensational but violent sequences. Loud sound effects of the gun shots bring light to the silent landscape that the characters dwell, and present a sense of realism to the experience.
Sheridan's third feature in his trilogy of modern American law enforcement, following, Sicario, Hell or High Water, has shown his strength in creating masterful crime thrillers with much to reflect about the real world. This capacity has also lead stronger confidence his potential prospects in directing a Bond film. 9.2/10
In Wind River, the region is still presented with all the strain that is causes on the lives of its residents, but a much more obvious villain is revealed before the movie is over.
Hell of High Water frames the crumbling economy of a certain Texas region as the real source of evil, rather than any characters. Whereas in Wind River the source of evil is definitely the rapist. I mean, the rapist attempts to blame the cold and silence, but his actions were clearly much worse than bad weather.
Sheridan's previous films also left doubt about who were the heroes, who the audience should be rooting for. This time it was much less ambiguousthey were the people searching for the rapist.
An emerging theme in Sheridan's movies appears to be Tarantinoesque eruptions of violence, sometimes near the conclusion. They don't always reach the levels of the Django Unchained shootout, but Sheridan clearly isn't shy about showcasing the unforgiving damage that can be inflicted by firearms.
Complaints, I have a few. On more than one occasion, I legitimately could not understand what a character had said, so I was left wondering if I missed something important. I'm not sure if this manner of speaking was a choice made by the actors or if this was a decision made by Sheridan to establish a certain tone. Either way, I could have used less mumbling.
The other complaint that I have, and this is more serious, the middle third of the movie felt like it contained a lot of empty moments. This may or may not have been related to the times that I couldn't understand what a character said. Still, the movie could have used a bit of its fat trimmed. It wasn't as crisp and clean as Hell or High Water and Sicario. And I know I keep comparing this movie to Sheridan's others, but that's bound to happen when a writer sets the bar so high with two gems.
On the whole, I consider this a success for Sheridan in his directorial debut. I'd happily watch another story of his about justice and an overlooked culture.
Couple of comments: this movie marks the second directing stint of highly praised writer (and erstwhile actor) Taylor Sheridan, whose previous two movies, 2015's "Sicario" and last year's "Hell or High Water", were among the top movie of the year for me. "Wind River" is for me one of the most anticipated movies of the year, period. With "Wind River", Sheridan goes in a very different direction again as compared to "Sicario" and "Hell or High Water", digging into a murder mystery, set in an Indian reservation in snow-covered Wyoming. Jeremy Renner brings perhaps his finest performance of his career as the Wildlife hunter/tracer Cory Lambert, who himself carries a heavy secret. Elizabeth Olsen is Jane Banner, the wide-eyed inexperienced FBI agent who is in way over her head but is determined to do what is right. "You are looking for clues but you are missing all the signs", remarks Lambert early on, and she begs him to help her. And there are plenty of potential suspects--it's not a coincidence that this is set in a community that has more than its share of crime and misery. Sheridan leads with confidence as the tension in the movie rarely lets up. Bottom line: this is another nice movie from Tayalor Sheridan, who in just a matter of a few years has become one of Hollywood most accomplished writer-directors. Can't wait for his next movie, "Soldado", a sequel to "Sicario", to be released next year.
"Wind River" opened this weekend at my local art house theater here in Cincinnati on not one, but two screens, a rarity. The Saturday matinée screening where I saw this at was attended very nicely for a matinée. I imagine that "Wind River" will benefit from the strong word-of-mouth that this will surely generate. If you are in the mood for a top-notch mystery drama with some stellar performances, you cannot go wrong with "Wind River" be it in the theater, on VOD or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray. "Wind River" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
The narrative remains low-key but gradually builds toward its gripping conclusion. We come to learn quite a lot about Renner's character through his backstory. He's quite understated and effective in this role. Olsen enters the picture as an outsider to the bleak region of despair that the American wilderness is portrayed as here. She must learn quickly in order to do her job or leave a possible crime completely unsolved.
Because this film deals with life on an Indian reservation, much of the social and economic woes might seem unfamiliar at first, but the film does a good job of providing a snapshot of the hardship that pervades in this part of the country and the difficulty that law enforcement has in conducting even a workmanlike investigation. Sheridan depicts a world that is sympathetic and troubled at the same time, masking its tears with courage and doggedness. Recommended to everyone.