Sunday, April 22, 2018

Now on Netflix: Wind River (2017)

Wind River (2017) - Written and Directed by Taylor Sheridan; Starring Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Graham Greene, Jon Bernthal, Kelsey Asbille.

By Kenny Howell

What made Taylor Sheridan's To Hell or High Water work so well was how seamlessly he interwove a story about two brothers robbing banks with a social commentary about the current financial state of the common man in America.

His follow up Wind River tries to take that same approach, but only by dancing around the outside of it. There is a story about the treatment of Native Americans as a whole, but also the women. Little bits are brought up about this, but they seem out of place in this pretty good mystery about what happened to a young woman who is found barefoot, dead in the snow high up in the mountains of Wyoming.

The discovery of the young woman brings in a FBI agent out of Las Vegas named Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen). She was the closest to the case, but she probably isn't the best equipped to handle the harsh terrain. Wind River is a reservation, so she meets with the police that oversees the land. She also meets the man that found the woman, a wildlife tracker by the name of Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner). He gives his take on what happened based on the snow tracks, and what he knew about the victim. He also had tragedy in his past, the mysterious death of his daughter still hanging over him. Banner requests his assistance, and the two set out to find the person or persons responsible for the death of the woman he found.

Wind River isn't quite as good as Hell or High Water, but it is solid. And that is a hard film to follow up. The mystery and procedural elements are well crafted, there is just something rough around the edges. Part of it is the failure to bring in the social aspect it wants, but also there are several "teaching moment" speeches given about dealing with loss, grief, etc. They don't seem organic and hold Wind River back from being something even better.

Wind River is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ***

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