Wind River (2017)

  • Time: 110 min
  • Genre: Action | Crime | Mystery
  • Director: Taylor Sheridan
  • Cast: Jeremy Renner, Jon Bernthal, Elizabeth Olsen

Storyline:

An FBI agent teams with a town’s veteran game tracker to investigate a murder that occurred on a Native American reservation.

One review

  • (RATING: ☆☆☆☆ out of 5 )

    GRADE: B

    THIS FILM IS RECOMMENDED.

    IN BRIEF: Taylor Sheridan’s riveting murder mystery is a well written thriller that boasts a terrific performance by Mr. Renner.

    SYNOPSIS: On a remote Indian reservation, a FBI recruit and a local townsman team up to solve the murder.

    RUNNING TIME: 1 hr., 47 mins.

    JIM’S REVIEW: The riveting opening scene in Taylor Sheridan‘s Wind River, immediately draws us into this thriller: At a Native American reservation, a bloodied young woman trudges through the sub-zero elements in central Wyoming, finally collapses, and dies. Barefoot and frightened, her wintry death sets up a murder mystery. Her frozen body is found by the town’s wildlife officer / hunter, Corey Lambert (Jeremy Renner). Leading the investigation is FBI agent Jane Benner (Elizabeth Olsen). A newbie with the bureau, she wisely knows that in order to solve this case, she needs local help. So she enlists the aid of Corey, who knows the town and its people, although he is a bit of a loner with very little social skills and a tragic past. The duo set out to find their suspects and bring closure for their victim and her family.

    Screenwriter Mr. Sheridan (Hell or High Water, Sicario) once again tells his story with skill and style. He focuses on the murder investigation while subtly showing the socioeconomic hardships of the community and its toll on the citizenry. The town is filled with desperation and loss and its inhabitants are all prime suspects in search of redemption. This talented screenwriter, making his fine directorial debut, delivers an engrossing narrative and imbues his characters with insightful dialog that keeps his film riveting from start to finish. His film is atmospheric and moody and his characters have an authenticity that is usually lacking in this genre.

    The one issue that I had with the film, which keeps it from being highly recommended, is the mystery itself. The storyline remains involving but it is just too simplistic, needing more intricate plot structure to completely satisfy. When we finally meet the perpetrators, everything appears far too obvious. That said, the screenplay still resonates with its complex characters and their impassioned monologues and eloquent conversations that create lovely moments about the human condition.

    The acting is uniformly strong. Graham Greene as Ben, a Native police officer, provides his customary able support and Gil Birmingham as the victim’s father is quite moving. (The scenes between the two grieving fathers are very poignant and emphasize the personal drama most effectively.) Kelsey Asbille and Jon Bernthal make a lasting impression as the film’s doomed lovers. Ms. Olsen is fine as the FBI agent, although her character’s naivety and lack of training seems bewildering at times, which cuts into the logistic of the story.

    However, Mr. Renner is a revelation. He underplays his character’s angst and subtly shows his sense of mourning. He internalizes the man’s melancholy and regret. His is a powerful performance and one wishes this gifted actor would be offered more complex roles than his typical shoot-em-up action fare and playing one-dimensional comic book superheroes.

    Wind River has its scenes of action and sudden violence in its storytelling that will please the action aficionados in the audience. Yet the film’s greatest asset and driving force is not so much the mystery or its action sequences. It is the film’s deeply personal human story that slowly unfolds. That, and Mr. Renner’s memorable character and Mr. Sheridan’s poetic words of wisdom make this moviegoing experience quite special.

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