Rated: R for strong violence, a rape, disturbing images, and language. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: August 4, 2017 Released by: The Weinstein Company
A pretty auspicious debut behind the camera from the writer of Hell or High Water marks the end of a trilogy started with the startlingly scintillating Sicario connecting crime in its socioeconomic climate.
Native-American reservation in central Wyoming is the primary setting of an austere, violent snowbound potboiler Wind River starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen (when they're not Hawkeye or the Scarlet Witch).
Taylor Sheridan may not have quite the heft of making his script as polished as the production, but demonstrates verve on the action front even if the double-backing structure of a crucial incident finally reveals a less ambiguous potency for more originality; the tendency towards sincerity and sentiment will be admirable to some, but lacks the naturalistic poignancy of something like Frozen River.
Vengeance comes from the location of a dead barefoot teenager Emily (discovered to be violated) which resembles Renner's U.S. Fish & Wildlife expert agent Cory Lambert's loss of his own daughter under similar circumstances. He gets to team up with Olsen's F.B.I. (Las Vegas-based) official Jane Banner assigned to the case. Lambert gets to display his survival skills and grief, and Renner delivers a committed effort that almost equals his "War is a Drug" protagonist in The Hurt Locker. Olsen may not be as well-rounded but her no-nonsense, out-of-her-league figure bears some resemblance to Emily Blunt's plight against drug cartels in Sicario. And, it's refreshing how the Lambert/Banner dynamic plays out, probably contrary to most expectations.
The edginess of the milieu is amplified by the music and lensing to help further a mystery that doesn't equal the director's earlier efforts as a scribe. How everything is resolved clearly has its share of lurid gloom and doom to match the gelid conditions as conversations and monologues have a tendency to be protracted. Wind River will need word-of-mouth to earn a respectful theatrical windfall, and the way it unfolds through the denouement and conclusion may be bit discordant to get it there. Even if Sheridan gets much mileage from a rugged, empathetic Renner and has a pulse for what Indians in remote, unforgiving environments must contend with in modern times.