Hey Everyone Freddy Beans here;
I went to see “Hostiles” last night and wrote up a review this morning. Scott Cooper directed this one in his 4th effort. I really like his films, “Black Mass” and “Crazy Heart” being my favorites of his first three efforts. I think he takes another big step forward with “Hostiles.” As always in his films, the cinematography is a driving force in this. This is a harsh land, largely devoid of water and he makes it stunningly gorgeous. The desolate landscape reminds me of driving the many hours through the desert necessary to get to Vegas. Imagine that on a horse! With nothing but provisions, no 7’11, nothing.
Set in 1892, we open on a ranch run by husband and wife and raising their 3 daughters (I’m not sure if the baby was a boy or girl honestly.) Either way, hell rains down on this family and in seconds only 1 is left standing Rosalie Quad (Rosamund Pike). She was the bad wife in “Gone Girl” a film I was pleasantly surprised by, and she was awesome in! She and Christian Bale do most of the heavy lifting in this film though no one gives a weak performance. She does a great job here, except for one screaming scene speaking for me personally. Her character has a pretty great and intensely emotional arc, even if it ends a little too Hollywood for my tastes. I believe all of her characters choices in this film. And she has to deal with an amazing amount of crap in this film, which I think she nails, except for the scene I mentioned earlier. My favorite is probably her unloading that gun over and over again into a lifeless body.
The main story however follows Captain Joseph J. Blocker (Christian Bale.) Initially introduced to us as he’s rounding up some Cheyenne Indians, roughly placing them in a makeshift jail. Clearly, he’s not a fan of the Cheyenne. We see him mutter disapprovingly under his breath about them and hear a conversation told early, where you learn Blocker is just as ruthless as the Cheyenne in times of war. I appreciated that his squad all had different views on that aspect. Some looked up to him and his animalism in times of conflict and others respected him for it, but were haunted by the enormity of everything.
We start the trip with three in his squad and I liked all three of these performances. Master Sargeant Thomas Metz (Rory Cochrane) was the standout for me, if there is one. Rory you might remember played Slater from “Dazed and Confused.” Easily spilling the best lines “Check ya later” and the epic George and Marth Washington grew weed rant, being my most memorable. He also stars in a little seen horror gem “Right at your Door” that I liked a lot. In “Hostiles” he’s the loyal man through and through, that questions it all. Thomas has a heartbreaking story in this one and his character’s arc ends in appropriate fashion.
Corporal Henry Woodsen (Jonathon Majors) stood out as the black soldier here as well. This movie really handled race well. Meaning it wasn’t a frontrunner topic at all. There was no need for it. It wasn’t needed and had no place in the film. They all treated Henry like one of their own and we hear how he has earned that place through many battles fought together in the brotherhood.
Lieutenant Rudy Kidder (Jesse Plemons) stars as the right hand man quick to back his fellow men but maybe a little fatefully naïve. I can see Jesse is in 50 some films but I really only remember him as anything but one of the crystal meth bakers on “Breaking Bad.” All three of these guys have great characters that you are drawn into. You root for them, you hope for them, and ultimately you hurt for them.
Private Philippe DeJardin (Timothee Chalamet) plays “Frenchie.” Who of course is French, though I swear there’s an entire scene he speaks in plain English, maybe I’m wrong?? I reviewed a film hereI liked him in earlier this month “Ladybird.” He doesn’t have much of a role in this one, but he’s fun while he’s around
This loyal group is in charge of transporting Chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) across state lines. Wes is pretty much the Indian Chief in every single movie I can think of with a tribe of Indians and he’s great here in a truly understated role. Cancer has taken to the Chief and he isn’t long for this world. So America decides it’s best to let him go die on his homeland, on a decree from the President no less. Chief Yellow Hawk’s family consists of son Black Hawk (Adam Beach) and his wife Elk Woman (Q’orianka Kilcher ((AKA: Pocahontas from “New World,”)) their young child and the gorgeous Tanaya Beatty. The Cheyenne story is simple, they have accepted defeat and simply want to bury Yellow Hawk on his actual homeland when he finally succumbs.
The film follows Captain Blocker and friends as they travel across old America with the Cheyenne captives in tow. A mission Blocker didn’t want, and fought against but was “Voluntold” to take on, against his will. Captain Blocker hates the Cheyenne Chief and relates memories of how the Chief dispatched his fellow soldiers in earlier wars to emphasize that point. But the Wild West is a hard country and everyone you run up against could be the last. So captives become partners due to necessity after an early battle and the question becomes, will any of them make it?
This is a violent film. From the first minute in, to the last 10 minutes, you’re unsure of when or where the next attack may come from. There are absolutely brutal consequences to almost every encroachment this party faces. Forcing odd partnerships forged through a camaraderie of necessity. Betrayals, odd bedfellows, and enormous loss are shown constantly.
I’ve heard rumors that this is the next coming of “The Unforgiven” but I’m not in line with that. The only similarities I saw are they’re westerns. I’d liken this movie much more to “The Revenant” myself. It’s an epic journey through a harsh land. While that was a solo venture, this is the same struggle to survive against all odds.
The landscapes here are vivid in their unending length of utter nothingness. The camera finds beauty in endless red-orange rock, that looks a lot like Aztec Sandstone or a vast desert of flat land, small shrubs the only landscape for miles. I’m a sucker for that stuff so I was drawn into this world immediately. The lens never seems to hang on these powerful panoramas too long, cutting us to action before we’re able to fully grasp the landscape.
“Hostiles” was largely a character study on violence. The obvious final consequences of the hostile path. Everyone here is a hostile of sorts, though I believe the title is really for Bale’s character alone. Choosing violence and of course choosing something else, when that’s all you’ve known. How hard a choice that truly is. How caught up in choosing violence or vengeance we humans get. While making sure to show another road home, if we ever chose something better.
I had a great time at this film with my group. Every one of our group enjoyed it from the beginning through to the end. I would recommend this film to everyone. If you like hard authentic feeling tales told in the dustbowl that was the Wild West, you’re going to have a great time with this one.
7.5 out of 10 old settlers secretly want to move
Til the next time Kids
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