Wind River (Film Review) – A Superb Thriller

Wind River is a neo-western thriller written and directed by Taylor Sheridan and stars Jon Bernthal, Gil Birmingham, Graham Greene, Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner. The story of the film focuses on Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tracker who has to work with Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen), an FBI agent. We follow these two characters in their attempt to solve a murder that occurred on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Wind River

My expectation for this film was very high and the sole reason why this was the case was because of Taylor Sheridan. This is the man who was the screenwriter behind films such as Hell or High Water and Sicario. Hell or High Water is a very good film but Sicario, for me, is an amazing film and is probably the best film I saw in 2015. What struck me in both films was how brilliant the story and the dialogue was. To see Taylor Sheridan return with Wind River both as a writer and a director really interested me.

Jeremy Renner as Cory Lambert in Wind River

I also had some concerns though and that was mainly down to Jeremy Renner. Now, I like Jeremy Renner but I was not confident in his ability to succeed as the lead in this film. He has not blown me away as an actor. Still, my overall feeling going into Wind River was one of hope rather than trepidation. I was confident that Wind River was going to be, at the very least, a good film.

My Thoughts on Wind River

Wind River is, by a mile, the best film I have seen this year. In terms of the films written by Taylor Sheridan, I would rank it well above Hell or High Water. Sicario is a bit better but for Wind River to get close to the quality of Sicario is an immense achievement. Undoubtedly, Jeremy Renner gives the best performance of his career in this film. Renner and Elizabeth Olsen, who was also brilliant, carry Wind River with terrific lead performances that have a lot of depth.

Elizabeth Olsen as Jane Banner and Jeremy Renner as Cory Lambert in Wind River

Indeed, the whole film is rich with story. On a surface level, the murder mystery is very interesting and Wind River does a great job at building suspense and tension to get to the revelations we crave. Still, what really intrigued me was how interconnected the stories in this film were. The murder mystery hits very close to home for Renner’s character who has gone through an extremely similar experience. He has a brilliant scene with Elizabeth Olsen where we see the pain within him.

Engaging Throughout

I never got bored during Wind River as I was always eager to learn more about the characters and their lives. Taylor Sheridan does a brilliant job in telling his story and I found both the pacing and length of Wind River to be perfect. It never drags but it never rushes either. Moreover, the superb cinematography in this film will always keep you engaged from a visual perspective. The score also impressed me and to have human dialogue interwoven into the music was a very subtle, nice addition.

Scenery including Sheep and Jeremy Renner as Cory Lambert in Wind River

To be honest, I cannot find anything wrong with Wind River. I was engaged from beginning to end and it just proves how talented Taylor Sheridan is from a writing and now a directorial standpoint. Jeremy Renner has also gone up in my estimations as an actor and he proved to me that he can be successful in leading roles. If you can find some spare time, then Wind River should absolutely be a film that you see. For me, it is the best film I have seen in 2017 so far.

Logan (Film Review) – A Great Character Study

Logan is a superhero film directed by James Mangold and stars Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Dafne Keen, Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman. Jackman plays Logan/Wolverine for the final time in the tenth instalment of the X-Men film franchise. Patrick Stewart reprises his role as Professor X/Charles Xavier for the final time too. The story of the film focuses on an ageing Logan who is caring for Professor X in a dystopian future where mutants are nearly extinct. But, despite the dangers, Logan embarks on one final mission; to transport Laura/X-23 (Dafne Keen) to “Eden”.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Logan

I have a very tumultuous relationship with the X-Men franchise. For me personally, X-Men is a pretty good film and X2 is one of my favourite superhero films of all time. X-Men: The Last Stand is not a good film but I don’t hate it as much as everyone else does. X-Men Origins: Wolverine, on the other hand, is complete and utter garbage. I liked X-Men: First Class a lot and enjoyed The Wolverine up until the last 10-15 minutes where it drops in quality.

Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman in Logan

My biggest issue with the franchise came after I saw X-Men: Days of Future Past which I now see as a great film. Still, after I watched it for the first time, I did not like how the timeline was reset at the end. It made films which I have a deep connection to such as X-Men and X2 redundant. However, X-Men: Apocalypse was a film I really liked and it changed my feelings towards the ending of X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Going into Logan, I was in a relatively good place with the X-Men franchise despite its ridiculous continuity issues which I doubt will ever be fixed. Nevertheless, I was looking forward to Logan due to the critical acclaim it was receiving as well as seeing Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, two actors who I have great affinity for in this franchise, for the final time.

My Thoughts on Logan

Overall, Logan is a very good film and a great character study of Wolverine. Certainly, Hugh Jackman gives his best performance as Logan/Wolverine. It has depth and he is much more of a tragic and brutal character than we have seen before. We really delved into Logan’s emotions and how the tragedy of what he has gone through in the past has taken him to a point where he is devoid of hope.

Dafne Keen and Hugh Jackman in Logan

Patrick Stewart was stellar and Dafne Keen was also very good for such a young actress. It was more of a physical performance than a speaking one but she does have some lines in the third act of Logan. I would have preferred it if she was silent until her final scene as it would have been more emotionally affecting but she was awesome as X-23.

The action in Logan is pretty great too. It is gory, raw and fresh compared to what we have seen in previous X-Men films and in superhero films in general. In fact, I contend that Logan is more of a western than a superhero film. Its setting and pacing make it a film which is more in the vein of something like Unforgiven than say a film set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Its ability to transcend the superhero genre reminds me of The Dark Knight. Still, I find Logan, while a very good film, to be a lesser film than its DC counterpart.

Hugh Jackman in Logan

The Flaws of Logan

While I liked the pacing for the most parts, it is a little bit uneven at times. Moreover, while the ending of the film is emotional, I found other scenes which were supposed to be emotional to be lacking in this regard. I think part of this is because of the fact that, deep down, the continuity issues with the X-Men franchise prevent me from buying into Logan as part of the franchise.

Certainly, while this film attempts to connect to what has happened before in the franchise, it is better to see Logan as a standalone film that is a character study set in the genre of westerns rather than superhero films. If you can do this, then you can really appreciate Logan for what it is.