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Wick's Review

Created Feb 07, 2018 12:22AM PST • Edited Apr 12, 2023 07:20PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Great 4.0

    The American Indian Wars were mostly over by 1892. Bad blood ran deep, with bands of crazed killers roaming the land, as other combatants tried to move on with life after wartime. Writer-director Scott Cooper adroitly uses this brutal and beautiful milieu for a piercing story about a cavalry captain, an Indian chief and a frontierswoman, plus those in their orbits. The result – Hostiles – is the best revisionist Western in years.

    Cooper’s movie operates in Unforgiven territory, with a clear echo of The Searchers. It also flirts with A People’s History of the United States type agitprop, but is nonetheless resolutely fair to all Americans, not just Native-Americans. Both sides were in so damn deep they’d long since lost sight of how they got there.

    Rediscovering their humanity is the movie’s extended grace note. Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike and Wes Studi are ideal stars for such a tortured journey. Pike travels the farthest emotionally, from maternal to hostile to loving. Her journey lingers in the mind’s eye, thought provoking and comforting all at once.

  3. Great 4.0

    Christian Bale is nails as a war-weary Army Captain who has long been the most nails man in the valley of the shadow of death. Bale isn’t always great, but is in Hostiles.

    Rosamund Pike matches up well with him as a suicidal widow who must go on after her husband and daughters are slaughtered by crazed Comanches. Pike is one of the best things in any movie she appears in, including Jack Reacher and An Education. Scott Shepherd cameos as her doomed husband.

    Wes Studi has been the goto Indian stud since Hollywood movies started portraying Native-Americans as realistic characters, notably in Dances with Wolves and The Last of the Mohicans. Now 71, he is ideal as a dying Cheyenne war chief. Adam Beach – today’s goto Indian stud in Hollywood movies – makes a strong impression per usual as his son. Q’orianka Kilcher jumps offscreen as Beach’s wife – Elk Woman.

    US Army

    • Stephen Lang is leaner than usual, but almost typecast as a rock-hard military officer.
    • Ben Foster is unlikable per usual as a criminal Sergeant.
    • Rory Cochrane has come a long way since playing a stoner 25 years ago in Dazed and Confused, here a war-weary NCO.
    • Jesse Plemons impresses per usual as a fresh West Point graduate.
    • Jonathan Majors also makes an impression as a Buffalo Soldier.
    • Ryan Bingham sings in his main scene as an Army sergeant. Bingham notably sang the title song in Scott Cooper’s Crazy Heart.
  4. Male Stars Great 4.0
  5. Female Stars Really Great 4.5
  6. Female Costars Great 4.0
  7. Male Costars Great 4.0
  8. Great 4.0

    Scott Cooper deserves major props for adapting a long dormant manuscript into a terrific revisionist Western. Coming after he wrote and directed the perfect Black Mass and the perfect Crazy Heart, Hostiles completes a powerful triumvirate of deeply American dramas from Cooper.

    His film is well structured: people get killed and fall away, pretty much all of them, leaving a proto “modern family” of survivors.

    One notable scene: The view out the open door of a homestead towards the wide open spaces of the Wild West echoes The Searchers. But then, it’s also kind of an obvious shot.

  9. Direction Very Good 3.5
  10. Play Great 4.0
  11. Music Great 4.0
  12. Visuals Really Great 4.5
  13. Content
  14. Risqué 2.2

    Savage violence animates Hostiles, scalping especially.

  15. Sex Innocent 1.0
  16. Violence Savage 3.8
  17. Rudeness Salty 1.8
  18. Glib 1.5

    The movie is fiction, but feels real.

    Want to know about the real conflict? Wikipedia has a solid page on the American Indian Wars.

  19. Circumstantial Glib 2.0
  20. Biological Glib 1.2
  21. Physical Glib 1.3


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