Movie Review: Entertainment Studios' #Hostiles

Release Date: January 26, 2018
Genre: Drama
Studio: Entertainment Studios
Starring: Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Jack Reacher, Wes Studi, Adam Beach, Ben Foster, Q’orianka Kilcher, Tanaya Beatty, Jonathan Majors
Directed By: Scott Cooper
Screenplay By: Scott Cooper and Donald E. Stewart
Produced By: Scott Cooper, Ken Kao, John Lesher
Set in 1892, Hostiles tells the story of a legendary Army Captain (Christian Bale), who after stern resistance, reluctantly agrees to escort a dying Cheyenne war chief (Wes Studi) and his family back to tribal lands. Making the harrowing and perilous journey from Fort Berringer, an isolated Army outpost in New Mexico, to the grasslands of Montana, the former rivals encounter a young widow (Rosamund Pike), whose family was murdered on the plains. Together, they must join forces to overcome the punishing landscape, hostile Comanche and vicious outliers that they encounter along the way.

Hostiles is directed by Scott Cooper (Black Mass, Out of the Furnace, Crazy Heart) and produced by John Lesher (Black Mass, Birdman, Fury) and Ken Kao (The Nice Guys, Knight of Cups).

Movies with a western genre are few and far between these days.  Westerns are an art that has given way to superheroes, vampires and vampire superheroes. Just when it seemed like there were no good westerns to be made, Hostiles comes along to enlighten skeptics and enchant the non-believers.

Set from far-west New Mexico to the Montana grasslands, and all the territory in between, Hostiles is the story of what comes after the “gun battle” in westerns. It is an epilogue of sorts for most westerns out there.  The “good guys” and the “bad guys” usually shoot it out and there are winners and losers and the audience rarely sees the real fallout.  Hostiles depicts that fallout beautifully, blurring the lines between the good guys and the bad guys, while delivering both a classic story and a timely message.

Hostiles is a success thanks, in part, to the gifted performances of the cast.  Wes Studi (as Chief Yellow Hawk), Christian Bale (as Captain Blocker) and Rosamund Pike (as Mrs. Quaid) all give passionate and strong performances.  Studi was especially impressive in his quiet portrayal of an ailing Cheyenne Chief. With less dialogue and action than Bale and Pike, Studi’s performance creates balance.   

It is that balance which makes the story of Hostiles timely.  This isn’t a typical “cowboys versus Indians” tale.  It is a story of inclusion,  tolerance, forgiveness and atonement.  Hostiles starts like it’s going to be a story about the spoils of war, but the plot peppers-in notions of genuine good and real evil.  It asks the audience to question the stereotypical ideas of heroes and villains.  Hostiles delivers difficult questions about the way that people treat each other, with an almost naïve hope about the future.

Mostly, Hostiles is great because it isn’t like every other western ever made.  There are just enough of the classic western movie tropes to draw-in an audience before redirecting into an original sentiment. It looked beautiful on the big screen.  There are some very moving moments, especially in the third act. Hostiles might be one of the best films of 2017. Go see it. It is in limited release now.   

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