Sunday, February 4, 2018

Movie Review: Hostiles

No one retains their innocence in the wild West as this new movie shows the harsh lifestyle of the war against native Americans. The violent story begins with Rosalie Quaid (Rosamund Pike) teaching her two daughters English while her youngest child sleeps and her husband chops wood outside. Apaches descend on the house and kill her family. Rosalie escapes with her dead baby in her hands and hides from the hunters. The story shifts to Captain Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale) who is tasked with escorting Chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) to his homeland before he dies of cancer. Blocker refuses the assignment at first but Colonel Abraham Biggs (Stephen Lang) threatens his pension so that he goes along with it. Blocker assembles a team to assist him in transporting Yellow Hawk through the rough terrain. 

Master Sgt. Thomas Metz (Rory Cochrane) suffers from post-traumatic stress who wants to quit the army after all the violence and feels guilty for helping subjugate a race of people. Corp. Herny Woodsen (Jonathan Majors) is Blocker's right-hand man who helps relay the orders to the rest of the squad. Lt. Rudy Kidder (Jesse Plemons) is a West Point graduate who hasn't seen any real action. Pvt. Philippe DeJardin (Timothée Chalamet) is also new to combat and questions Blocker's decision to bring him along though Blocker claims it was up to Biggs. rounding out the crew are Yellow Hawk's family including his son Black Hawk (Adam Beach), Elk Woman (Q'orianka Kilcher), Living Woman (Tanaya Beatty), and the youngest member Little Bear (Xavier Horsechief).

They set out with little trust between Blocker and Yellow Hawk. The captain puts Yellow Hawk in chains as soon as they are out of sight of the press person Jeremiah Wilks (Bill Camp). They move through the wilderness coming to Rosalie's house where she sits with her dead family having nearly lost her mind. They take her with them after holding a funeral for her family. Rosalie tries to bury her husband and children but runs out of energy. She is a changed woman as they set out again. They are set upon by the Apaches who kill DeJardin and injure Woodsen. Kidder is shaken after he takes a life. Yellow Hawk helps Blocker fight off the attackers who escape. That night, Metz falls asleep and Yellow Hawk and his family, having earned a little leniency, sneak out and kill the Apache.

They stop at a settlement and stay the night with Lt. Col. Ross McCowan (Peter Mullan)  whose wife complains of the treatment of the natives in front of a still traumatized Rosalie. Ross asks Blocker to take a criminal Sgt. Charles Wills (Ben Foster) with him to another fortress to hang. Wills used to serve with Blocker and questions the man for transporting their old enemy. They set out again and Rosalie and Living Woman are captured by fur traders. Wills escapes killing Kidder and fleeing on a horse. Metz pursues him, kills him, and takes his own life. As Yellow Hawk grows sicker, they make it to his homeland and bury his body but Cyrus Lounde (Scott Wilson) and his sons object, demanding they leave his property even after seeing the presidential order. A shootout results in Yellow Hawk's family being killed with only Little Bear surviving. Rosalie takes charge of Little Bear and Blocker decides to go with them at the last minute. 

Hostiles reminds me of older Westerns and it is a bit surprising to see a film like this in theaters. The film moves at a leisurely pace but has plenty of action and adventure to remain an entertaining film. Great performance from Pike and Bale carry the film as it does its best to examine the guilt of soldiers and the bloody history of terrible treatment of the American government and its people towards the native people of the land. A lot of strong supporting performance push the film a bit further but it does tend to drag at times and won't be a contender for awards season. Still, I like seeing movies like this and hope there are more to come from this new production company. 

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