Wind River Review – Suspenseful, A Gripping Thriller

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Wind River, from The Weinstein Company, present the story of a brutal murder, a wildlife tracker, a novice FBI agent, outlaw rouge justice, traditions and modern life on the Native American Reservation and the search for truth.

Directed and written by Taylor Sheridan, Wind River stars Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Graham Greene, Gil Birmingham, Jon Bernthal, Julia Jones, Kelsey Asbille, Tantoo Cardinal, Teo Briones, Hugh Dillon, Tokala Clifford, and Martin Sensmeier.

Wind River opens as with a woman running across a snow covered open field, whatever is chasing her is not seen, the only light is the full moon and one can sense the cold, deep, sub-zero cold. She falls, and willing herself to keep running, she, barefoot, with no gloves, hat, scarf only a small ski jacket, picks herself up and runs further.

The next scene is daylight, three wolves flank a pen of sheep, suddenly from nowhere a shot rings out, and with precision, the wolf is hit. With so much easy prey, the wolves have no thought for the fallen and continue encroaching, a second shot, predator number two is felled. Number three moves away from the sheep.

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Cory Lambert, played by Jeremy Renner, is spending the day with his son, Casey, played by Teo Briones.  Stopping by his old house to pick-up his son, his wife, played by Julia Jones, explains her job interview in Jackson may take her away from this place. The two are cordial even if their relationship is strained. After a fast approaching storm warning the Cory and Casey head over to the Native American Reservation where his in-laws live.

A lion is killing the cows on the Native American "Rez" Reservation and Cory is the Wild Game/Predator tracker. Tracking the lion, he sees more in the tracks than one predator which wouldn't be strange above the tree line, and following the bigger tracks he discovers the frozen body of the woman. He calls for emergency service and as it is the Reservation, FBI has authority.

Reservation Police Chief Ben, played by Graham Greene is waiting with Cory as the blizzard begins to really come down, just as the FBI, whom neither have much respect as the government takes and leaves shows up unable to navigate the blizzard conditions.

Agent Jane Banner, played by Elizabeth Olsen, stumbles up to the porch in an oversize, lose fitting FBI Jacket, dressed in her Las Vegas Field Office business attire she looks unprepared as she explains she drew the short straw essentially. No one else was available at such short notice.

Short circuiting her immediate commands, Cory stops her protests of preparedness and gets her outfitted to head up to the field. The two track up to the mountain where the local police are processing the scene. She classifies the death as a homicide.

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Wind River is a forceful film. An award winner, it is a compelling contemporary thriller that will keep you glued engrossed. The harsh elements are matched only by the harsh conditions and brutalities of everyday life on the "Rez."

For the modern Native American, escaping the prison is the biggest challenge they face if they are fortunate enough to get beyond the alcohol plague. Wind River, doesn't pull the punches, for some building a family, a home, a life was the dream and the children, wanted more and faced educational, addiction, and discrimination obstacles.

Elizabeth Olsen gives a solid mesmerizing performance as Agent Jane Banning and transforms as unsure and hesitant to confident and commanding. As this is her first field case, and the territory is the size of Rhode Island, she is given three local Sheriff deputies and the Native American Reservation Police Chief. She asks Cory to help her hunt this predator.

Jeremy Renner gives an exceptional performance as Cory, the former son-in-law that connected him to a people, a culture, life, and tradition that he obviously didn't have in his life. I want to say this role was made for him. I've seen him in many other films, and without knowing his background or past, this film seems to be the one that enables him to closer, internally, to his true self.

The entire cast gives solid performances. Graham Greene, a familiar face, plays Ben, the Reservation Sherriff, and gives Jane the quick facts of law enforcement on the "Rez," the low down on all the locals, the back story on every "Rez" problem, trouble, and possible killer.

Gil Birmingham plays Martin Hanson, the father of the victim, Natalie Hanson, played by Kelsey Asbille. His performance genuinely adds to the authenticity of the culture and custom. Tantoo Cardinal, plays his wife. Birmingham also played opposite Jeff Bridges as Agent Alberto Parker in Hell or High Water.

Taylor Sheridan also wrote SICARIO and Hell or High Water, both cat and mouse, edge of the seat thrillers. Wind River is almost a trilogy in this series of judicial authority fighting a crime system run amuck. All three films are outstanding and serve up eye for an eye justice, without remorse bypassing the neat pre-fab judicial package, with rouge characters, injured, regarded by some and of ill-repute with others.

Sheridan won the Un Certain Regard award at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. The film also won the audience award at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival with Jeremy Renner receiving the President's Award for his role. The Prestigious Nantucket Film festival also awarded Taylor Sheridan with Best Of Fest Award.

If you enjoyed Hell or High Water and SICARIO then Wind River is a must-see film. The film hypnotizes with the freshness of the script, and unpredictability of the plot. The layers are met only with the attention to detail and the depth of evil in a man's imagination.

The manhunt for this predator has Agent Banning and Cory Lambert fighting rugged unpredictable terrain and elements, facing deep, almost incapacitating, injuries of grief, understanding the laws of nature, man verses animal, and the danger of finding the truth.

Riveting, Wind River is a gripping, suspenseful, modern, crime story.

Wind River opens in theaters everywhere August 4, 2017.

Image courtesy of The Weinstein Company.


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