By: Nick Ferwerda
Set in the snowy mountains of Wyoming on an indian reservation in the town of Wind River, Taylor Sheridan’s dark and thrilling crime drama – also titled Wind River – follows Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), a wildlife protection officer, a local gametracker, and a man who had two children with someone from the reservation. They split soon after their eldest daughter was killed in a murder that would, most likely, never be solved.
When Lambert gets a job to track down a deadly feline that’s hunting cattle, he ends up finding something he wasn’t expecting – a body in the snow. Realizing all signs point to a murder, he reports the discovery, and the case falls in the care FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen). Banner flies in from Las Vegas – her spring jacket and high heels suggest she doesn’t know what she’s getting herself into with Wind River’s tough local scene and local cynics. With this being her first rodeo, Banner recruits the assistance of Lambert to help track down the killer.
Wind River marks the directorial return of actor/writer Taylor Sheridan, and it’s a borderline masterpiece. It’s easy to see how much knowledge Sheridan absorbed from his time working on Hell or High Water and writing Sicario considering the captivatingly creeping nature of the film’s fearful screenplay. There’s also faithful truth to the film. Wind River focuses on missing woman within the Native American community, and the audience learns about the indefinable statistic of missing people; giving Wind River a much larger storytelling scope.
It may be fun to see Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen share the screen as superheroes in the Marvel franchise, but their chemistry adapts with ease to fit Wind River’s mystery. Both actors give incredible and original performances along with other supporting standouts (Graham Greene, Jon Bernthal, Kelsey Asbille).
Taylor Sheridan may have set a high bar for his next feature with this beautifully shot and well-acted drama, but it was worth it.
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Nick Ferwerda: @NickFerwerda