Wind River (2017) - SPOILER-FREE Review

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Written and Directed by: Taylor Sheridan

Starring: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Graham Greene, Gil Birmingham, Jon Bernthal

Runtime: 111 min

Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water) writes and directs a thriller about a girl's murder on a Native American Reservation, which is being investigated by Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen), a newbie FBI agent.

She teams up with Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), a local hunter with exceptional tracking skills, a profound connection to the community and a particularly haunted past, in order to solve the mystery.

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I will start with Jeremy Renner because he undoubtedly steals the show. He is able to transform himself into an entirely different person, consequently delivering his career-best performance. Renner proves that he is more than just a mere superhero, he is a highly capable actor who brings out an astonishingly emotional display.

Cory Lambert's script helps a lot Renner's performance since Taylor Sheridan's writing is, as usual, brilliant. Cory has an extremely disturbing and tragic past which the audience only understands near the beginning of the third act, hence elevating the character's backstory into something much more intriguing.

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The screenplay is wonderfully written. Sheridan is effective in avoiding forced exposition scenes with sharp dialogues, every conversation feels genuine. Additionally, some fantastic character development scenes support a truly captivating story that never has a dull moment due to its pretty well-controlled pacing and tone.

If the writing is not enough for you to appreciate Sheridan's talent, then his work as the director will surely convince you. The action-heavy third act is amazingly filmed, it is packed with some unbelievable shootout and chasing scenes, including some flawless editing that helps the film's overall flow.

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The cinematography (Ben Richardson) feels as real as it could be, the setting is just beautiful and its colors brighten up the movie. Finally, the soundtrack really captures the environment of the snow mountains with some memorable tracks accompanying the narrative.

This is one of the best films of this year, but I still have some issues with it. My main problem with the screenplay is based on the mystery itself, "who killed the girl"? Even though this is a character-driven movie, its build-up surrounding the murder loses some of its impact when the moment of truth is finally revealed. The characters related to the killing feel a bit cliché and too superficial, so I do feel somewhat disappointed.

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You are probably wondering why I didn't write about Elizabeth Olsen yet. Well, that is because I have a nit-picky thing with her character. Olsen is great, she truly is! She gives a very compelling and passionate performance that will definitely offer her more opportunities for bigger projects in the near future.

However, I think her character could have been given a more solid backstory to help the audience connect better with her. Jane Banner is far from the "damsel in distress" cliché, in fact, she is able to stand her own against her attackers, but I find her essence very shallow.

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All in all, Wind River is one of my favorite movies of 2017! Jeremy Renner has his best performance yet and Elizabeth Olsen amazingly supports him, despite her character's simple background. Taylor Sheridan elevates everyone and everything with his marvelous writing and skillful direction. Stunning cinematography, an extraordinary score, a great protagonist and an extremely captivating story that never fails to entertain its viewers.

|  A+  : 9.3-10 |  A : 8.7-9.2 |  A-  : 8.0-8.6 |  B+  : 7.3-7.9 |  B : 6.7-7.2 |  B-  : 6.0-6.6 ||  C+  : 5.3-5.9 |  C : 4.7-5.2 |  C-  : 4.0-4.6 |  D+  : 3.3-3.9 |  D : 2.7-3.2 |  D-  : 2.0-2.6 |  F : 0-1.9 |

| A+ : 9.3-10 | A: 8.7-9.2 | A- : 8.0-8.6 | B+ : 7.3-7.9 | B: 6.7-7.2 | B- : 6.0-6.6 || C+ : 5.3-5.9 | C: 4.7-5.2 | C- : 4.0-4.6 | D+ : 3.3-3.9 | D: 2.7-3.2 | D- : 2.0-2.6 | F: 0-1.9 |