Director: Taylor Sheridan.
Taylor Sheridan completes his American Frontier trilogy, after Sicario and Hell or High Water, but this time with himself at the helm, possibly taking something from both of Villeneuve and Mackenzie or could it strictly be the strength of his writing that prevails as all three have that same precise grittiness and imminent crisis. You watch all these films waiting for an engagement to happen, you know it's coming, you just don't know how.
Set in the titular Indian Reservation in the state of Wyoming, which is home to the Eastern Shoshone Tribes. And without the harsh, winter environment, the area is known for its high crime and drug related activities. A dead woman found by chance, frozen and is highly likely to be a homicide which leads to an immediate investigation by the FBI.
Renner portrays Cory Lambert, a tracker for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency that is dedicated to looking after the wildlife and ecosystems of America. Harbouring his own tragic past, it gets rekindled when he discovers the frozen dead body of a young woman out in the snow, miles from anywhere. His character is impressive, a strong yet torn man that has a job to do. Calm, focused and ruthless; he's a hunter, and a good one at that. He's like a Bear Grylls who's able to tell you what you've had for breakfast just by studying your footprint in the snow. I love it when people, experts in their field can look at something and have it speak volumes to them, deciphering the scene and seeing a whole different story compared to an untrained eye just seeing snow, trees and landscape. It's now my favourite performance of Renner's that is more akin to his Hurt Locker and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford characters in terms of seriousness.
Olsen plays Jane Banner, an unprepared, naive rookie FBI agent who has something to prove with her heart in the place. But has no survival knowledge of the terrain she's about to venture into or any cultural understanding of the people she is trying to help. Out of her depth, she enlists the help of Lambert to assist in her investigations which leads them on a sordid quest for the truth. She really does look out of place, out of breath and with filming being in real hazardous conditions that certainly adds to the authenticity, it really put cast and crew in difficult and often stressful scenarios with Olsen suffering from snowblindness during filming.
What makes this thriller so great it that whilst there is action, shockingly at times, it relies heavily on the character development, making this a more personal, relatable and an unconventional murder mystery. The story runs parallels with our key character's own painful past which adds a whole new dimension to the story. Is it revenge or redemption? What it definitely is, is chilling, brutal and unexpectedly upsetting in parts.
There's sense of invasion here, a statement is being made that feels like a criticism to the US government where Native Americans are still raw about how their people have been, and or are treated. And rightly so. They are a proud, strong spirited nation and this story is emblematic of that. There's a strong underlining theme of survival here, what it takes and questions what you are prepared to do in order to do so.
This film has all the key elements of a perfect thriller. Great storytelling with a brilliant yet simple script; strong performances from the entire cast and yet another haunting, sombre score from Nick Cave and Warren Ellis which just increases the intensity and emotion of the film.
Sheridan does a grand picture, another modern western masterpiece that'll be this year's Hell or High Water. A must-see for thriller fans that likes the importance substance to their characters and story.
Running Time: 10
The Cast: 10
Job Description: 10
The Extra Bonus Point: 10 for yet another highly engaging thriller that'll stay with you long after. Simply outstanding.