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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Wind River 2017 * * * Stars

Wind RiverDirector: Taylor Sheridan
Year: 2017
Rated R
Rating: * * * Stars
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Gil Birmingham

An FBI agent straight out of Las Vegas, hires a game tracker to help solve a rape and eventual murder. That's the essence of Wind River, my latest review. Elizabeth Olsen plays agent Jane Banner and Jeremy Renner plays Wildlife Service expert Cory Lambert. So OK, it has been over a month since I've given a favorable write-up. With "River", I figured I was due.

Image result for wind river movie scenesDistributed by the Weinstein Company and released at Sundance via January of this year, Wind River is filmed in Utah but its setting is Wyoming. So yeah, we get it. It's darn cold in Wyoming. And despite a few images of beautiful, mountainous scenery, "The Cowboy State" is a pretty dour place to live in as well. A wrongdoer in "River" quips, "there's nothing here but snow and silence!" Later on, the protagonist preaches, "you either survive or surrender". Finally, that same protagonist exclaims, "luck don't live out here". Here's an idea, why don't these characters just get up and get the heck out of Wyoming. Jeez.

Anyway, Wyoming is like a star in "River" and it's referenced to the point where obviousness becomes a dirty word. I mean, this isn't Devil's Tower Wyoming we're prattling about nor is it summertime Wyoming like in Brokeback Mountain. No I'm talking the Wind River Indian Reservation where blizzards come and go, temps drop to -20 degrees Fahrenheit, crime/drug use is a mainstay, and the police force is comprised of six people. To quote humorist Dorothy Parker I say, "what fresh hell is this?"

Now as a movie clocking in at just under two hours, Wind River is like Fargo on downers, Cliffhanger minus the popcorn heroics, or The Grey without crashing 747's. In hindsight, it's a brutal motion picture, cloaked in vulnerability, violence, false mercy, loud bullet-ridden gunfire, and naked depression.

Director Taylor Sheridan working from his own, figurative script (Sheridan penned 2015's Sicario), doesn't obsess with wide shots and cinematography that has the wilderness at his full disposal. He's more into his story which is well told even if the methodology is straightforward in the whodunit department.

Image result for wind river 2017 movie scenesTaylor carefully inserts a devastating flashback toward "River's" conclusion while getting superb performances from his leads (Renner and Olsen). He does go a little overboard adding a souped-up Mexican standoff and a death sequence by which the main malefactor perishes from sub-zero, temperature inhalation (it didn't even look like it was that cold out). But hey, with all the blood and white flakes and symbolism (you could even throw in a haunting violin soundtrack as well), it's just way too difficult for me not to recommend Wind River. Rating: 3 stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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