RELEASED IN 2017 and written & directed by Taylor Sheridan, "Wind River" chronicles events at the remote Wind River Indian Reservation where a curiously barefooted young Native woman is found dead in the wilderness; a Fish & Wildlife tracker (Jeremy Renner) and an FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) team-up to solve the mystery. Graham Greene plays the Reservation police chief, Gil Birmingham appears as the victim’s grieving father and Jon Bernthal & James Jordan are on hand as security guards at a drill site. There are several others.
The film is based on hundreds of actual stories similar to it. The issue of assault against Native women on Reservations, many mysteriously disappearing, has existed since the inception of the Reservation system, but in the past 15-20 years it has exploded and yet gets no attention, which was the motivation for the film. In ages past the tribes (e.g. Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho) would migrate out of the area during the unrelenting winters, but the Reservation system basically forces the tribespeople to permanently stay where people weren’t meant to live year round (or so it is argued).
This is a straight-forward crime drama/murder mystery/thriller taking place completely in wintery conditions in the remote modern American West. The story starts kind of dull, but interest slowly builds until everything eventually explodes in the second half. If you like stories where the clues slowly lead to the culprit/culprits you’ll probably like this movie. Renner is a quality taciturn Westerner and likable Olsen with her cutie face & figure is strong on the female front. The action scenes are effective because they’re sudden & realistic and not over-the-top cartoonish.
THE MOVIE RUNS 1 hour 47 minutes and was shot in Utah (Coalville and Park City Studios) and Wyoming (Wind River Reservation, Fremont County and Lander).
I love this film for many reasons. It's not an overly complicated film. But it is well done. The setting is a Native American Reservation in Wyoming. The land is starkly beautiful. Winter here is harsh and unforgiving. I love the outdoors, and I love the tough, isolated, lifestyle of those living far from civilization, so I enjoyed this film from the start. The cast is very good, the acting also. I don't need a lot of surprise twists and a shocking ending in a detective story in order to enjoy a film, so it doesn't bother me at all that this one doesn't have that. The things which make this film different make it more enjoyable to me.
I am frankly tired of the 'action/mystery' movies and the familiar formulas and techniques they employ: the rapid shift of camera perspectives used to simulate fighting action, the 70's reminiscent, 'fast n furious' car stunt segments with their blaring music, etc. Pharmaceutical companies, oil companies, preachers, and social conservatives are so frequently employed as villains in such films that it's beyond boring now. This film is different.
It tells a story about the brutal death of an Indian girl, and her missing boyfriend. We see the actions of a few dedicated, over worked, law officers trying to solve the crime and bring the perpetrator to justice, and a civilian tracker contracted to help them. It pushes no hidden or thinly veiled agenda.
It's just a story, set in the modern west, about human nature, crime, and justice.