Taylor Sheridan is having a great few years. As a writer he’s delivered the well regarded screenplays for Sicario (a sequel is on the way) and Hell Or High Water and now he’s written and directed Wind River, which once again takes western tropes and updates them to deliver an exceptional thriller. Sheridan’s film works best if you know very little about it, so try to avoid trailers and dig in for a tough hard-edged mystery with great performances from all involved. It’s got similar themes to Michael Apted’s 1992 thriller Thunderheart but Sheridan’s film is more of a muscular film, which scores higher on an emotional and visceral plain.
Jeremy Renner is Cory Lambert, a member of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent who discovers the frozen body of a young Native American girl on the Wind River reservation. He teams with Elizabeth Olsen’s inexperienced FBI agent to track the killer, opening her eyes to the forgotten plight of the Native American people.
Both Renner and Olsen deliver career best performances here (putting their Avengers money where their mouths are), the former finally finding the correct material to match his stoic masculinity, while Olsen comes across like a young Michelle Pfeiffer, while also having a few moments which let her riff on Clarice Starling from The Silence Of The Lambs. Sure, Olsen might be a little young for the role, but she delivers enough strength to let you over look that. There’s a simplicity to each of the characters, but they never come across as one-note, a testament to the writing and direction. Sheridan constructs the film around these well composed characters (it’s always wonderful Graham Greene in a supporting role) alongside a captivating core mystery. He punctuates the film with powerful and strong violence, which adds a serious amount of weight to the film at certain points throughout the running time.
Wind River is a wonderfully but together thriller. It’s rich, textured and incredibly well acted. On the surface Taylor Sheridan’s film may appear to be generic, but he takes the the genre constructs and adds a lot of meat to the well picked bones to offer-up something special. It can be tough going at times but it’s worth watching. Highly recommended.
You get interviews with Taylor Sheridan, Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen and a couple of deleted scenes. They’re a little slight compared to the richness of the movie.