Taylor Sheridan (Writer/Director) wrote the screenplays for “Hell or High Water” and “Sicario,” and this film is in the same class – although be forewarned that the film has one very violent scene. Located in the Wyoming wilderness on the Native American reservation Wind River, the cinematography (by Ben Richardson) is breath-taking. It’s an interesting murder-mystery with the background gestalt concerning the hopelessness and despair of the Native Americans living there.
Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) is a hunter/tracker who kills animal predators such as wolves and lions who, at times, live off the livestock on the reservation. The film opens at night, with a young woman frantically running barefoot in the snow. This scene is soon followed by a day scene, with Cory shooting one wolf out of a pack who were just about to attack some sheep. Cory doesn’t kill for the fun of it, and spares the others. This short sequence is symbolic of who Cory is. Additionally, Cory is either separated or divorced, and there is considerable tension with his Native American wife when he picks up his son for the weekend.
The woman running in the snow has died and turns out to be an 18-year-old Native American, Natalie (Kelsey Asbille), who was Cory’s daughter’s best friend. It is soon learned that she had been raped. Even more importantly, for another reason revealed a little later in the film, Cory takes Natalie’s death very personally. Since Natalie’s death occurred on a Native American reservation, the tribal police get involved, along with a novice FBI agent, Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) from Las Vegas, who is ill-equipped for the task of unraveling the mystery about what happened.
Soon, Jane and Cory team up to try to catch the man or men responsible for Natalie’s rape and her subsequently freezing to death while trying to escape. Cory speaks to Natalie’s parents, who are devastated by her death, and there a couple of great scenes involving Natalie’s father (Gil Birmingham) and Cory. The mystery is eventually revealed in a 15-minute, violent, and sexually-explicit scene, which volcanically erupts out of the silence.
I think this is a Top 20 film and is a MUST SEE if you watch violent films. It has a terrific screenplay (which also makes good use of the silences), fine acting by all the main characters (especially Renner), and beautiful cinematography. If you don’t like this movie, I think you must be “all wet!”