Movie Review: Wind River (2017)

Posted: January 21, 2018 in Action, Drama
Tags: ,

wind river

Corey Lambert (Jeremy Renner) is an animal tracker, living near a Native American reservation in Wind River Wyoming.  Corey is divorced from his Native American wife, Wilma (Julia Jones) and planning to spend the day visiting his son, Casey. (Teo  Briones) While tracking a lion, Casey finds a girl who has been raped and murdered. Casey knows the girl, Natalie, (Kelsey Asbille) Natalie was friends with Casey’s daughter, who also died under mysterious circumstances.  An F.B.I. agent named Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) is called in to investigate the crime because it occurs on federal land,, but the coroner, Dr. Whitehurst (Eric Lange) rules the death resulted from hypothermia.   Corey and Jane then have to prove that Natalie was murdered.  They ask Natalie’s parents, and get nowhere.  They proceed to ask Natalie’s brother Chip (Martin Sensmeir) and he gives them the name of Natalie’s boyfriend, Matt. (Jon Barenthal)  Do  Casey and Jane find Matt?   Does that lead to Natalie’s murderer?

Wind River should have been a taut thriller with a murder mystery to resolve, but what it became was a fish out of water story about an FBI agent from Florida trying to solve an apparent murder on an Indian reservation in Wyoming, and because she doesn’t know the culture or customs of the native people, there are a lot of awkward silences between her and the victim’s family and friends.  Casey finds himself manslplaining to Jane what it takes to track down clues in the wilderness of Wyoming. The outsider theme overtakes the movie and subordinates the murder mystery, and the mysteries surrounding Casey.  The murder is resolved to quickly and easily, and the ending falls flat, it is also awash in violence, a lot of which could have been avoided.

Jeremy Renner is actually good in this film, for the first time since The Hurt Locker, I enjoyed seeing Jeremy Renner in a film.  He should stick to these small,  indie type films, he’s not an action star, he’s proven that in his roles in the Mission Impossible, Avengers, and Bourne film, the kind of low-key character he plays here is more his style.  The problem with this film is casting Elizabeth Olsen as Jane the FBI agent, everyone else in this movie is trying to play a character here and she is just playing herself, there is nothing there, no emotion, no energy, just a flat, monotone reading of a script.  There is no chemistry of any kind with Renner, they’re not friends, co-workers, they’re like strangers who don’t like each other, but are forced to work together, and I don’t think that was purposeful.  Graham Greene was great as the tribal policeman Ben, Greene gives Ben an easygoing wit and charm that lesser actors wouldn’t have.

The direction, which has been lauded by many critics is nothing special to me, the pacing is very slow, except when the ominous background music swells, that is a tip off that something suspenseful is about to happen.  There is nothing visually arresting in this film, and first time director Taylor Sheridan should have taken more advantage of those surroundings.  Sheridan wrote Sicario, which I did not like, and Hell or High Water, which I have not seen.

Wind River:  Full of hot air.

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