Wind River Review
The Story/The Direction:
Corey Lampert (Renner) is a US Fish and Wildlife Service agent working on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. While hunting a mountain lion finds a frozen, bloodied and brutalized corpse of Natalie Hanson, an eighteen-year-old woman. To investigate the death of Natalie, the U.S. government sends Jane Banner (Olsen), an inexperienced FBI agent from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Due to her being clearly out of her element, she works with Corey and the Reservation's head of police, Ben (Graham Greene), to find out who was responsible for Natalie's death by investigating her family and boyfriend (Jon Bernthal).
Sheridan who is known for his writing work on Denis Villeneuve's Sicario and David Mackenzie's Hell or High Water takes a stab at directing his own screenplay. Here, he is able to do a decent job at telling a tragic story based on true events. This film shows how poor the living quality is on these reservations. The people living here are only expected to live on average to 49 and the unemployment rate is above 80%. While the film doesn't actually state this, you can see the settings that Sheridan created. This is helped by the cinematographer, Ben Richardson, who gives the viewers some great shots of snow filled Wyoming. The snow-covered areas are gorgeous that is only disrupted by trees and snowmobiles. While the plot is simply about a person being killed and the person responsible being found, Sheridan gives the views a decent amount of character development.
You get a very strong performance from Renner as Lambert. Sheridan's writing makes him a great character to follow throughout the film. He is action-packed but also has a tortured backstory that scars him for the entire film. Olsen as Banner does decently with the role she is given and can clearly act well. There is some decent chemistry between these two that was shown initially in Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Captain America: Civil War and it shows furthermore here. I really enjoyed the dark sense of humor that Ben (Greene), the head of police, has and his interactions with the two main stars. Another thing that I enjoyed from Sheridan with his casting is that he got actual Native Americans to play the parts. There were a good amount of small roles that could open a lot of further acting opportunities for them.
One flaw I had was the reveal. Although the stuff that followed was enticing, it seemed abrupt. I was not a fan of how it was revealed at all. I also do not like how the film used the Jane character. She does small things but overall she ends up being sidelined to Renner's Lambert. I understand she was inexperienced but it seemed to me that she wasn't even trained. I also felt the film dragged on a little too long in the middle and the end as I did feel a little bored. In addition, I feel the message that the film was trying to make about the abductions and killings of Native American women was not executed in the best way. It was a good attempt that could have been done better. It was also brought to my attention that while dealing with a story about women, the story was being told through the fathers' perspective. Not to devalue the struggles of the fathers of these many women who have been killed but it seemed to focus on the man's side of the situation rather than both the mothers and fathers. I also want to point out that even though there were a good amount of Native Americans cast, it was still the white people who come in and save the day.
This film has strong performances from Renner and Olsen and a decent storyline that will keep you somewhat engaged for the majority of the film. The last thirty-ish minutes are pretty intense and have a decent message. However, the entire story is not executed in a way that would demand a viewing in theatres. If you're curious, I'd say skip the theatre and check it out on demand or Blu-ray. If you enjoyed Sheridan, Renner, or Olsen previously, you won't be too disappointed with one viewing but I wouldn't watch it again.
Rating: 3.0/5.0 bowties
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