a WIND RIVER musing

 Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner star.

Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner star.

From Taylor Sheridan, the writer of the excellent SICARIO in 2015 and last year’s just as amazing HELL OR HIGH WATER, comes WIND RIVER, the third in the so-called “Frontier Trilogy”. Continuing to explore the communities on the fringes of the country, WIND RIVER has a harder time being subtle in its themes of isolation and exclusion, but is excellently plotted. Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), an agent for a governmental wildlife control service, discovers a body in the snow on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. Since the body was found on federal land, an FBI agent, Jane Banner, (Elizabeth Olsen) is brought in to help investigate and finds herself thrown into the deep end right away, further learning, along with the audience, the ins and outs of protocol when it comes to affairs on Native American soil.

 Olsen and Graham Greene.

Olsen and Graham Greene.

Although having a great, twisting plot, Lambert, whose daughter is revealed to have passed, is given weak motivations to be on the hunt and doesn’t have much of a character arc. Banner gets to hang around and let Lambert do all the solving. In SICARIO, this worked better because it was a commentary on just how inconsequential someone can be in the Drug War, no matter how qualified they are, but WIND RIVER doesn’t develop Banner to the extent of Emily Blunt’s, especially since Banner is not the main protagonist. 

 Renner and an exceptional Gil Birmingham.

Renner and an exceptional Gil Birmingham.

Sheridan’s first foray into directing is a mixed bag of logic leaps, dangling threads, but, as usual, intense and cynical plotting. Conversations that touch on the main themes are more blatant than the other two Sheridan-written films, but it does help to expose some of the tragic follies of the American treatment of Native Americans. WIND RIVER comes together as it ramps up to its exciting and horrifying finale, through uncharacteristic character problems, and puts an amazing cap on one of the best trilogies exploring America’s marginalized.

RATING: GOING IN MY BLU-RAY COLLECTION

(Refer to my rating system HERE!)