After his screenplays for “Sicario” and “Hell or High Water,” writer and director Taylor Sheridan completed his American Frontier trilogy with his second feature “Wind River,” starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen.
In rural Wyoming, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent Corey Lambert (Renner) finds the body of a young woman who was raped out in the snowy wilderness. Rookie FBI agent Jane Banner (Olsen) is then flown in to Wind River, the dismal Indian reservation where the crime took place.
The duo starts to investigate and quickly uncovers some hints thanks to Lambert’s tracking skills. But time is running out because the snow keeps falling, covering the evidence with a blinding layer of white.
Taylor Sheridan is the go-to person for good neo-noir. He once again delivered a detailed script full of quiet yet driven characters, clashing with curious rookies looking for guidance in rural, treacherous landscapes.
Sheridan is not only a good writer, but also a versatile director, delivering a well-crafted movie that shines a beacon of light on a hopeless environment. Under his careful direction, Renner’s performance is reminiscent of his role in “The Hurt Locker,” the Oscar-winning movie that skyrocketed his career in 2008. He is reunited in this movie with his Marvel-colleague Olsen. Her acting shows the character’s vulnerability but also her strength, and she definitely demonstrates that she can handle much more than the role of a comic book side-character.
The skillful cinematographer Ben Richardson captures the beautiful but blinding snowy landscapes of Wyoming and contrasts it with the gray and dirty reservation where the snow turns into mud, creating a bleak atmosphere that covers the town like a blizzard. When Lambert tracks down a family of mountain lions, the movie almost turns into an episode of “Planet Earth.” This documentary-style approach leads to a highly realistic movie, and it shows the dismal situation of the people in the reservation, where escape is the only way out of a vicious circle of hopelessness and addiction.
Last but not least is the soundtrack by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. The musicians, who already worked together in Cave’s band, The Bad Seeds, create a sensitive sound that never puts itself in the foreground but supports the story subtly.
Thrilling and entertaining, this film still manages to deliver an important message about modern-day America, making it a must-see for true crime fans and suspense junkies.
Overall Rating: 8/10
Wind River (USA, 2017)
Written & directed by Taylor Sheridan
Produced by Peter Berg
Cinematography by Ben Richardson
Music by Nick Cave, Warren Ellis
Edited by Gary D. Roach
With Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Gil Birmingham, Jon Bernthal, Julia Jones, Kelsey Chow and Graham Greene