‘Wind River’ Review
Charlie Kenney | Friday, September 29, 2017
The recently released film “Wind River” by Taylor Sheridan tells a story fit for television not a movie theater.
The film tells the story of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent (Jeremy Renner) who gets entangled in a murder on an Indian reservation with an estranged FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen). It’s not a particularly uninteresting story. It grabbed my attention at times; kept me guessing. The extent to which it kept me guessing, however, could be equated with an episode of “NCIS” or “Criminal Minds” that I could watch from the comfort of my living room. An episode of “NCIS” or “SVU” is what this movie should have been — an hour long with all of the details cut out.
But the film shouldn’t even be on television because the film is bad. It’s well directed, well written and (for the most part) well acted. It should be, because the film’s theme is a murder-rape that, in the grand scheme of things, is unspectacular. This is not to say that rape and murder are not gruesome and disgusting; it is to say that the only types of murders that keep you glued to your seat for two hours must be out of the ordinary — ones that you would never see on a cookie-cutter episode of “Criminal Minds.”
“Fargo” keeps you glued to your seat, “The Silence of the Lambs” keeps you glued to your seat and “The Departed” keeps you glued to your seat. Not because they are significantly better produced than “Wind River,” but because of their stories’ natures. “Fargo” is about someone hiring a hitman to kill their wife, “The Silence of the Lambs” is about arguably the smartest serial killer to ever have lived and “The Departed” is about a police scandal of epic proportions — all extraordinary stories that need two hours to be told and demand a film to tell them. “Wind River,” on the other hand, only dances the line between ordinary and extraordinary. Its story of murder and rape is only special because it happens on an Indian Reservation — not something I would call particularly eye-catching.
Aside from the story, the film has its positives — particularly in what the director, Taylor Sheridan, does. In this film, Sheridan, screenwriter behind “Sicario” and Oscar-nominated “Hell or High Water,” made the jump that so many screenwriters long to make: from writer to writer and director. In the film, Sheridan is finally able to bring his own words to life for the first time instead of pawning them off for someone else to do with them as they wish. Sheridan’s skill in the film is without a doubt the film’s highlight. The film’s Native American dimension is well researched, the characters are incredibly well developed and the film’s structure is very intelligent. The film isn’t an incredibly notable debut for Sheridan, but it has without a doubt put him on the radar and shows incredibly promising signs of what he could produce in the future — especially if he has a better screenplay and story to work with.
All in all, if crime stories with interweaving plots and predictable endings are your cup of tea, then it’s a pretty good cup of tea. Go out to any theater while its still showing and you’ll absolutely love the hour and 40 minutes that it lights up the screen. But, if you have a short attention span and a particular dislike for police dramas in the movie theater, don’t waste your time. It’s an almost two-hour long movie that draws itself out with needless detail and meaningless, clichéd dialogue. Do yourself a favor and watch an hour-long episode of “Law & Order: SVU” from the comfort of your living room instead.
Director: Taylor Sheridan
Writers: Taylor Sheridan
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen