Two-ninths of the most current incarnation of The Avengers, erm, reassemble for a movie that couldn’t be further from the Marvel Blockbuster Lab if it chucked itself off to Wim Wenders for a quick script polish.
Actually, that is a little unfair. And it’s also a disservice to Taylor Sheridan’s stunning directorial debut, which more than holds its own when it comes to high-tension thrills. It’s just that Sheridan’s action is driven by character, not necessity. Jeremy Renner (aka Hawkeye) is the backwoods tracker whose job it is to keep nature at bay – metaphor alert! – in the wolf-packed, snowbound wilds of the Native American reservation Wind River. Elizabeth Olsen (aka Scarlett Witch and Best Olsen Sister By A Mile) is the greenish FBI agent called in when he finds a shoeless murder victim stuck miles out in the snow. Between them, they must confront prejudice, frostbite, rednecks and vomit-inducing pepper spray to hunt their quarry.
Sheridan was already one of the hottest new writers in Hollywood for his screenplays for Sicario and Hell or High Water. And though both of those were a couple of degrees smarter than this – Taylor’s occasionally clunky metaphorical edges smoothed by the direction of Denis
Villeneuve and David Mackenzie respectively – his first crack behind the camera is often breathtaking, while the cast are on top form.
Yes, Sheridan revisits some familiar tropes – of good men gone bad and tough-but-vulnerable women – and some of the imagery is a little on the nose. But, if it’s a sophisticated thriller you’re after, you’ve come to the right place. Highly recommended.
The bottom line
Fargo without the laughs. A top chiller and a great directorial debut.