Haiku Review: Hostiles

Written by Donald E. Stewart (manuscript) and Scott Cooper (screenplay)
Directed by Scott Cooper


Beautiful landscapes;
Violence and forgiveness;
Brutal harmony.

Buy This Film Immediately
**Checkout at Redbox**

Stream on Netflix/Watch on Cable
Don’t Waste Your Time


I sometimes wonder what classic westerns could have achieved with the benefit of today’s top-tier acting talent and advances in technology. And while Hostiles is hardly the first example, it remains a strong one. It’s a study in dichotomy; there are equal parts brutality and quiet reflection, hopelessness and optimism, enemies and unlikely friends. While I can see some saying that this could make the story feel uneven, I thought one hand washed the other, and those sentiments/moments helped strengthen each other. In the story, a retiring Army Captain must escort an enemy, a dying native Chief and his family, to their native ground. With a grieving widow in tow and a Comanche war party hot on their trail, the road is just as rough as it is beautiful to look at. We have all the makings of a modern classic western present here, between some very strong performances (Christian Bale, Wes Studi, Rosamund Pike and the ever-reliable Ben Foster), stunning cinematography and a powerful score. I’m not sure if it will reach that mark with most audiences, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. The film could have reached a very different conclusion if it ended 10-15 minutes sooner, as the final climax almost forces it to miss its mark; but in ending the way it did, it makes us think about the notions of preconceptions, the damage they cause, and the healing that can come from overcoming them. While it may not break new ground, it’s a film that will resonate with me for a while and I’m upset that it came and went from theaters too fast for me to enjoy it in its proper setting. It may not be the kind of movie you rewatch several times, which is the only thing stopping me from rating it as “buy immediately.” Redbox has it and you should seek it out right away!

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