Wind River

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Rated Greg’s Top 5 Murder Mysteries

  1. Seven
  2. Mystic River
  3. L.A. Confidential
  4. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
  5. Who Framed Roger Rabbit Wind River

Wind River is the final piece of screenwriter Taylor Sheridan’s self-proclaimed trilogy about the American frontier.  His first film, 2015’s Sicario, tackles the drug war currently engulfing the Mexico/Arizona border.  2016’s follow up, Hell or High Water, is a bank robbing familial saga that catapults the audience through forgotten, impoverished communities in West Texas.  And this newest feature is a murder mystery set on an Indian reservation in Wyoming, once again shining a light on a neglected faction of American society.  It’s brutally intense, sad, and yet absolutely thrilling by the final act.

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I don’t know why I wasn’t more excited to see Wind River given Sheridan’s first two films, both of which are arguably, scratch that inarguably in the top 3 of their respective years.  I guess I just assumed there was no way he could keep this up.  Sometimes I think of authors like rock bands. Usually their most celebrated album is also their first, with each subsequent endeavor ultimately paling in comparison.  It just seemed too far-fetched to expect more of the same for a THIRD consecutive year.  But after seeing Wind River…..I mean…..Really?!….. Are we sure Sheridan isn’t a screenwriting robot?  He’s brilliant.  The former Sons of Anarchy actor also made his directorial debut with this film, and of course he’s good at that too, earning him 2017’s Best Director prize at Cannes.

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One thing to keep in mind is that Wind River is a little slower than the other two.  Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen (insert heart eyes smiley face emoji’s) team up to solve the murder of a young woman and the first hour or so is fairly procedural (Sheridan himself deemed it CSI: Wyoming).  It does take longer for shit to pop off than in Sicario and High Water.  And that’s fine.  Like the hook of a good song, the delayed action feels earned with a compelling and thought-provoking story.  But when it does pop off, believe me shit really pops the fuck off!  There’s a certain type of chaotic realism that’s displayed during the ballistic confrontations of Sheridan’s films and I’ve really come to appreciate it (not that I’ve ever actually been in one, but it doesn’t seem like a gunfight in real life would look anything like Bad Boys 2).  Anyways, you probably want to get familiar with Taylor Sheridan if you haven’t yet.  His films contain the unique ability to peak the interests of both action junkies and intellectuals.  Grade: A+

One last item of note:  This is easily Jeremy Renner’s best performance since The Town, but I wanted to give special recognition to his costar.  Elizabeth Olsen (younger sister to the Olsen twins) is FANTASTIC.  She probably won’t, but I hope she gets a nomination come January.  Her performance as a rookie F.B.I. agent in way over her head reminded me of Jodie Foster in Silence of the Lambs.

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