What we have in Wind River leads me to believe that Taylor Sheridan could possibly have a successful career as a director should he continue down that path. I guess he could just stick to writing, but there appears to be some serious potential that will make that hard to do. With a strong yet steady hand, he’s able to paint a picture here that shows that he may have as much to offer as a director as he does as a screenwriter.
After the murder of a local girl on a remote Native American Reservation in Wyoming, a game tracker (Jeremy Renner) from the area agrees to help an unprepared rookie FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) who’s been left to fend for herself by her superiors. Together, the two move forward with the investigation with very little help coming their way. As they learn about one another, they come to accept that only thing they can do is move forward undeterred in a cold world peppered with violence and covered in the kind of snow capable of covering the tracks of various types of criminals.
I went into Wind River expecting to see a movie that involved a story surrounded by violence and mystery. What I actually got was something that was more of an investigation than anything else. There are no clues for audiences to see and nothing for us to use in order to find out what’s happening before the film’s conclusion. There also isn’t an incredible amount of violence either outside of a couple of brutal scenes. Instead, we follow the two main characters as they look around and ask questions that will help get them the answers they’re searching for.
In some circumstances, this could very well be a negative to a movie. You go in thinking you’re mind is going to be challenged, but you get something that does all of the work. However, Wind River doesn’t disappoint as we’re presented with a clean film that is laid out as well as a filmmaker possibly could. Because of this, audiences are treated with a feature film that’s crafted with balanced and somewhat relaxing tones even though we know we’re dealing with murder and other heinous acts.
The way it’s structured allows for Jeremy Renner’s Cory Lambert to fit and lead in a sense. It also allows for Elizabeth Olsen’s Jane Banner to make sense here as she’s fairly young and not as experienced as most other FBI agents probably would be. With how things are set up, these two work together in a way that is rare. Unlike in most movies like this, this relationship is based on cooperation with nothing coming in between them. This lends itself well to the overall form of the movie that we’re watching. Like the rest of it, their partnership is a fluid and purposeful one where they both benefit and develop.
There’s always a place for mature films with realistic or at least plausible characters and situations. Although it most likely won’t get a blockbuster type return, I’m confident that Wind River will find an audience who will appreciate what they’ve seen. What they’re getting here is an intellectual thriller of sorts that gives its viewers the chance to observe while also giving them the potential to become attached to the people they meet on-screen. As we’ve seen even in recent films, not every movie is capable of accomplishing that even when they’re working with characters based on real people.
Director: Taylor Sheridan
Film Length: 111 minutes
Release Date: August 11, 2017
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
- Score - 7.5/107.5/10