Monday, August 28, 2017

Movie Review: Wind River

Taylor Sheridan is one of my favorite film writers and now in the director's chair, he has made a film of equal caliber. Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) is a Fish & Wildlife hunter who has experienced tragedy in his past. He works on the Wind River Reservation where he discovers the body of a young woman. The jurisdiction of the reservation territory means that Sheriff Ben (Graham Greene) must call in the FBI. The agent that arrives, Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen), is inexperienced to the cold and investigating the death of a missing person. She has to borrow clothes from Lambert's in-laws to go out into the cold. These same clothes belonged to Cory's daughter who went missing and was later found dead under mysterious circumstances. The victim Natalie (Kelsey Asbille) had run six miles in the blistering cold before her lungs finally gave out. 

Jane and Cory cooperate to figure out who did heading first to a trailer where the victim's brother and other drug addicts are shacked up. Sheriff Ben and Jane knock on the door but end up getting maced in the eyes by one addict. Jane has to kill him when he draws a weapon. Cory interviews Natalie's brother to find out what happened and who she was dating. He reveals that she was dating an oil worker named Matt (Jon Bernthal) who is also discovered dead. Cory confesses to Jane what happened to his daughter that ruined his marriage and motivates him to help the investigation. Following the clues leads them to the drilling station nearby. Jane and Sheriff Ben call in additional state police officers to help them search the trailers. 

Cory heads up into the mountains to investigate the trail that led from drilling station to where the body was found. The tension is high as the state officers accuse the security on the drilling rig of trying to flank him to get the drop on him. All the men pull their guns and threaten each other until Jane can calm them down. Finally, they lead the officers to the trailer of Mike. The film cleverly flashes back to Matt and Natalie in the throes of their budding relationship. The viewer knows their fate so it is tragic to see them flirting and discussing which city they would like to live in. The drilling workers show up to spoil their privacy and begin to harass Natalie. Matt stands up for his girlfriend but worker Pete (James Jordan) goes too far.

They beat Matt to death after raping Natalie, who escapes and flees where she dies. The story jumps to the future where Jane is knocking on the trailer only to receive a shotgun blast to the chest. Luckily, she survives thanks to her bulletproof vest. The drill workers kill the police and are prepared to kill Jane when Cory snipes them down. He kills several of them as they try to determine his location. Pete manages to kick out the window of the trailer and flee. Cory makes sure that Jane is able to call in a medical helicopter before he sets out to hunt down Pete. He captures the rapist and brings him out to the highest mountain in Wyoming. He allows him to go free with no boots to see how far he can run and he only makes it several yards. Cory returns to comfort Jane in the hospital and Natalie's grieving parents. 

Wind River draws attention to the fact that there is no recording of missing native people which must result in plenty of crimes in an area with low resources to investigate. It also shows the drug addiction and poverty that affect the society and lead to a feeling of hopelessness. The movie moves at a quick enough pace and has plenty of shocking moments. Renner and Olson are great in the main roles but I would like to see a film with a native person in the main role and stories written by native people to understand that perspective. This movie is good but it feels like it is only speaking to a white audience and should try harder to find a wider variety of creators. I still think this story should be told as well and would highly recommend the film to those who like thrillers. 

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