Wind River (2017)
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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.
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 --
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
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".
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 ambiguous—they 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.
Let's talk about the climax. A group of local police officers and an FBI agent head out to a drill site to look for the boyfriend of the victim. Shortly after arriving the security at the drill site attempts to flank the cops and one of the local cops notices this and calls them out on it. Guns end up being pointed and of course the heroine (FBI agent) has to step in and calm everyone down. As soon as they put their guns down she should have arrested them on the spot. Instead she chooses not to listen to the local cop and basically almost dismisses the security guards as a threat. Of course, the security guards kill everyone but her. Fast forward to the end of the ending of the movie ... Jeremy Renner gets his revenge but nothing is even mentioned of the local police and police chief that were savagely gunned down. Also, Renner convinces the FBI agent that she wasn't just lucky to have survived. What he should have said was that she was an idiot and got the rest of her colleagues killed by not recognizing an obvious danger.
Left a bad taste in my mouth.
I didn't know anything about when I went to watch it. I'm glad I didn't. It came as a fantastic surprise.
It's bleak and eerie. It has a little "Insomnia" mixed in with some "Jodie Foster/Clarice Starling" thrown into the mix. It's a little dark, suspenseful and interesting right through the reveal at the end.
The story, whilst nothing shocking in of itself, is realistic and believable. The reveal towards the end is satisfyingly on the money, and it tugs at the emotional strings to see very believable and well acted grief on the part of the family that suffered the loss. The acting was excellent and carried the drama very well. More crime thrillers should deliver like this did.
Just watch it - you'll be glad you did.
Rape and murder on the reservation with Jeremy Renner really coming into his own as a not particularly handsome leading man. Very strong as the predator hunter with high powered rifle on high speed snowmobile. The picture opens with a long sequence of a woman running barefoot across a vast nighttime snowscape until she finally drops dead. Eventually we will find out that she was brutally gang raped and was fleeing for her life. Reservation great white hunter, Renner, starts an informal investigation on his own. An FBI agent, (Olsen) is called in to assist with the investigation. A junior woman agent is all the FBI cares to spare for this case, obviously regarded as unimportant because who. cares about Indians! But, since only the FBI has police authority on Indian reservation territory they have to make at least a token contribution to the investigation
At the end of this snowy subzero nail biter, Renner having tracked down the main rapist subjects the now wounded and fleeing central SOB to a most satisfying form of vigilante justice -- making him crawl on his belly bloodied and barefoot in the snow to a hideous painfully slow death -- the same kind of death the multiple rape victim at the beginning had to endure. The fetching female FBI agent called in on the case (Elizabeth Olsen) provides a slightly romantic angle to an otherwise edgy all male Indian reservation thriller. Beautiful snowy mountain photography throughout is more than noteworthy. Overall one of the best films of the Cannes week.
Kudos to director Taylor Sheridan and all others involved in this remarkable outdoor production. This Weinstein brothers prod was filmed in Utah although the setting is supposedly Wyoming on the Wind River Reservation. An added reality perk, real Indians, not Hollywood palefaces, portray the Native American characters. And do it so well!
The Wind River Indian Reservation is an Indian reservation for the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes of Native Americans in the central western portion of the U.S. state of Wyoming. The entrance to the Wind River Reservation is the small town of Lander, Wyo. which is actually seen in one brief scene, but the magnificent mountain snowscapes we see are all in Utah. Geographical poetic license. Highly recommended off-beat scenic thriller with highly satisfying retribution at the end.
Also, I'm tired of the notion that certain movies feel the need to hit you over the head with their social commentary. When the young female FBI agent arrives, everybody is surprised, obviously because they don't think a woman is fit for the job (aka sexism). When they arrive at the home of the native American family, the father asks the FBI agent: "Why is it that whenever you people want to help us, you always insult us first?" (Because that's what white people always do, I guess.) When the Indian boy, who sells drugs, gets caught and confronted by Jeremy Renner, the conversation is about him fighting against the whole world, and how Jeremy Renner shouldn't say "we", because the only native American thing about him is his wife. And if that's not enough lecturing for you, then wait for Elizabeth Olsen thanking Jeremy Renner for saving her life, and Renner replying by saying, "you're a tough woman, you saved your own life". Obviously the problem is not the idea of "strong women", but the fact that instead of making it a natural part of the story and the characters, the director decides to shove it down our throats through such clumsy, heavy- handed dialogue.
There's a shoot-out scene towards the end of the movie, that I thought, was written and executed pretty poorly. First of all, at one point I couldn't even tell who's on whose side, and who gets shot by who. It felt like they tried to recreate the amazing border shoot-out scene from Sicario (also written by the same guy), only this time in the snow. The problem is that we don't know anything about most of the people who are in this scene, as they were just introduced two minutes earlier, but all of a sudden we're supposed care whether they live or die.
Anyway, if you're a huge Jeremy Renner or Elizabeth Olsen fan, you might as well go and check it out, but be prepared, it's not a very good one.
Not bad, not exceptional, but okay, thanks to the good acting and the great supporting act called nature.
The film ends with a sombre note that no missing person records are kept for people living on Indian reservations. After spending what little time we had with the public officials of said areas being focussed on disputes about authority and their rights to be, or not be, somewhere - this kind of absolutist statements feels like it's missing a lot of context. Who isn't keeping records, the FBI? The local police? Can't they? Won't they? There's a lot missing here, and this goes back to the rest of the film: it's not as profound and clever as it - seemingly - thinks it is.
At the moment main character Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) finds the body of Natalie (Kelsey Asbille) that sets off the chain of events that is the film's plot, he is seen in his job as a hunter. He is portrayed as such, says he is, and again emphasises he is later - and his quips are all about hunting, too. It is also quickly revealed that his own daughter was lost in the wilds and found killed, and that he still suffers from this - almost to the exclusion of other motivations. Are we as an audience supposed to have any doubt as to what this man's motivations are going into this story?
Renner does a fine job portraying Lambert as he is written, that's not the issue. But I'm struggling to find out what Sheridan wanted his audiences to feel. Are we supposed to cheer on his subsequent killing(s)? Are we supposed to feel as though Lambert is crossing some sort of line? And what line would that be, when the other characters in the story - from Natalie's father to FBI agent Banner - are all cheering him on to do what he ultimately ends up doing; making what is by then the only surviving man who assaulted Natalie suffer the same fate she did.
Speaking of which, when the police goes to confront the security workers at a drill site any remaining subtleties go flying out the window when the security engages in a wild shoot-out with police and FBI. Eh... why? What did they think was going to happen, that nobody was going to check on the place where they had just lost half a dozen law enforcement colleagues - and that they were going to get away with their crimes? Not likely! Sheridan then doubles down by introducing a lengthy flashback scene of the moment when Natalie and her boyfriend were attacked by said workers. The point of this is unclear. There is no need to know Natalie wanted to move to California with her boyfriend to appreciate that the assault was horrific, and her death a tragedy.
Furthermore, it further reduces the villains to caricatures. Fitting, for it allows Lambert to see them as stand-ins for the men- never outright stated, but hinted at - who were probably responsible for his own daughter's death, too. Contrast this to Sang-il Lee's Akunin ('Villain'), where the young man who kills a young woman ends up becoming the main character of the story. I get that Sheridan wasn't going for that, but he went way over to the other side, robbing us viewers of any ambiguity about what was the right thing for the protagonists to do. Moreover, it makes the confrontation with the villains one of self-defence, except for that last guy, and not a case of - perhaps questionable - revenge.
Quick note on the other actors: Julia Jones is fine as Lambert's ex-wife Wilma, Kelsey Asbille did a good job as Natalie with the little screen time she had in what can't have been easy scenes to film, Graham Greene makes for a very believable local police officer, Gil Birmingham and his character Martin go a long way towards making the setting in the Indian reservation meaningful (why wasn't the Lambert character part of the local police?!), and ... oh, Elizabeth Olsen as FBI agent Jane Banner!
I like Olsen, she makes the 'big city FBI agent' work, but I am just unclear as to what her purpose in this story is. She is of no help in the investigations, she can't actually be there because of jurisdiction issues - until she somehow can, she is attacked twice, rescued twice, and she in no way limits Lambert's all-too-obvious quest but instead encourages him to go his own way. Sheridan perhaps didn't want to retrace the steps he took in Sicario, where he also presented a female FBI agent as a moral compass of sorts (Emily Blunt) - but I'm sure he could have done better here.
Ultimately then, a decent film - but it takes more to make it great than adding landscape shots of Wyoming and a few run-down trailers of people named Littlefeather.
It has a so-so plot, characters who aren't particularly engaging, far too many snowmobile scenes (did the director really think we'd never seen one before?) and above all it has a dialogue soundtrack that is unintelligible in too many places.
Cowboys and native Americans alike mumble or whisper far too much, sometimes hardly moving their lips - so there's little visual help from there. I think I decoded not much more than 50% of the dialogue.
Avoid it unless you can see it with subtitles. Even then, it's really nothing special at all.
I think most people, like me, wanted to like this movie because it involves A) violence against women, and B) a depiction of Native American hardship. By liking the movie, you indirectly show your support for the causes, as it were.
The movie was just not good. It started well enough, and I was not dissuaded by the slow pace.
Wheels fell off when - SPOILERS AFTER HERE - Jane shoots the young man in the trailer. Totally unnecessary scene, and totally unrealistic. Ask yourself this - what are the odds that a cop investigating a murder ends up in a trailer with a guy who has done nothing wrong, but yet opens fire on the cop and ends up getting shot? How about close to zero? So now with the wheels off a fire breaks out to burn the remaining structure down when there is a Mexican stand off (no slight intended - I don't believe that's pejorative) among 10 different people - Jane, the Tribal cop, two Star-Trek-Orange-Suit guys they bring along, and 5 or 6 of the drilling crew guys, all of whom are armed to the teeth. Everybody's got a gun drawn, and everybody's yelling to calm down and back off. Finally, Jane, in a terrible alpha dog voice, claims rank with her FBI status and tells everybody to put weapons away. But then a guy with what appears to be an auto open fire from inside where the guy who actually raped the girl is, and all hell breaks loose, with bullets flying everywhere, Star-Trek guys and Tribal cop get killed, but Jane survives, aided by Hurt Locker/Hawkeye, who then exacts your desired blood lust revenge by making bad guy run in snow until he dies, which ends up being a hundred feet and well short of the dead girl's six mile run in the snow, which, I think, is supposed to show us how tough she was? Ug. Awful, awful stuff. Had a chance to be very good, then made the critical mistake of going to what they probably believed were tried-and-true tropes, which did not fit the story at all.
Also, a bunch of guys beating their friend to death because he wouldn't let them molest his girl seems very far fetched.
Just not good.
EDITED TO ADD - sound track may have been the worst sound track I've every experienced as a movie goer. Did not fit the scenes. Awful.
But once you cut through all that, you'll find a very clichéd, often sexist genre film complete with a moody, understated male hero, a rookie female FBI agent who basically looks pretty and needs rescuing, a couple of action scenes that feel a bit like random missions from GTAV (with plenty of characters that you have only just met getting arbitrarily killed).
The main flaw of the film for me is the presence of a flash-back which ultimately shouldn't be necessary, but seems completely relied upon for audience satisfaction when it comes to a villain's denouement. The villains here have no depth or causality, they exist simply as villains to further the story, but perhaps that's where the unfair treatment of native Americans comes in again.
Its good - worth seeing even - but if you've seen The Grey (Neeson's character specifically), Insomnia and The Valley of Elah, your recognition neurons will be fairly active.