Friday, April 20, 2018

[Review] Hostiles

Christian Bale leads the way in Hostiles, a harsh and sweeping Western epic from director Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart, Out of the Furnace, Black Mass).

Set during 1892 in New Mexico, the story revolves around a legendary Army Captain (Bale, huge mustache) as he's reluctantly tasked with leading a cutthroat expedition across dangerous territory in order to escort an imprisoned Cheyenne Chief (Wes Studi) and his family back to Montana.

Along the way, they're faced with unforgiving wilderness, unpredictable enemies, and high tensions within their own party. There are some long, almost meditative breaks between the shotgun action, exemplifying that the strenuous, slow wilt of the journey is just as taxing and treacherous as any immediate threat or ambush. And for as harrowing as this journey is, it' so gorgeously filmed -- displaying crisp and wide landscapes that feel like deep breaths. But the most interesting and compelling aspect of the film is the quiet dynamic between the Army Captain and the Chief. Here's two equally dangerous and powerful opposing leaders with conflict-ridden pasts sharing quarters for the long haul, eventually gaining a significant respect for each other -- and even a sense of comradery.

Bale gives an unsurprisingly gritty and terrific central performance in this type of environment, and the supporting cast is solid too -- including the familiar faces of Rosamund Pike, Jesse Plemons, Timothée Chalamet (of Call Me By Your Name fame), Ben Foster, and musician Ryan Bingham (who also played a big role in Scott Cooper's Crazy Heart).

Hostiles builds to a moving, potent, and cathartic conclusion that stomps on the idea of division.

( 8/10 )

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  1. vexmovies - Forget the talk of the film being slow, this isn't an action film or an old school shoot 'em up western, anyone looking for that should search elsewhere. Whilst there some great action scenes, where hostiles excels is in setting the tone for an early American world where law and order rest of gun power. The cinematography is exceptional, meanwhile Christian Bale is superb playing a army captain who is seemingly tough and unflinching but shows an undertone of melancholy, Rosamunde Pike pulls of a great performance as a woman thrust into the ugly world of war and anarchy by a brutal attack on her family home, a scene is exceptional and unapologetically shocking. Overall the film is about the futility of trying to civilise a wild land built on violence, and about the tragedy and the sheer pointlessness of conflict against fellow man.

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