Review: “Harder They Fall” Updates Westerns in Style

They are. Man. It existed.

These three words, and their highly emphasized punctuation, appear on the screen at the beginning of “The Harder they Fall” and set the definitive tone for this stylish and bold new western by Jeymes Samuel.

Yes, Samuel says, his story is fictional, but roughly based on real characters. But don’t forget for a moment that these people, the black cowboys and families who lived in the Archetypal Old West, were really there.

Samuel, also known as British filmmaker and musician The Blitz, is a fan of old Westerns, but he introduces a lot of new things. In particular, it’s an eclectic soundtrack that bends genres, times, and moods (and not curated by anyone but Jay-Z). , Producer here); Gorgeous visuals that sometimes resemble paintings. And a star cast of black actors telling a story that is badly underrated in the movie.

Frankly, the only thing that feels normal is shooting. There are a lot of gunshots. And the body. Violence is cleverly choreographed, but some of us have less bloodshed (again with Tarantino-style prosperity) and more to deepen some of the fascinating relationships Samuel introduces. I should have been able to do it through the dialogue. On the other hand, there is a reason they call these movies shooters.

The cast is the wonderful Jonathan Majors as Nat Love, the outlaw who succumbed to the terrible mistakes he suffered as a child, and Idris Elba as Rufus Buck, the terrifying enemy of Love, and his ally. Guided by Regina King, “Smith, a tough gangster who holds herself in a male-dominated world. (Favorite Line Alert: Don’t miss her reply when Ai asks for the whereabouts of “your boss”.)

Excellent support performance comes from LaKeith Stanfield, Delroy Lindo, Zazie Beets, and the fascinating Danielle Deadwyler as a saloon bouncer identifying men who aspire to the bigger ones. They are all playing versions of real characters who lived on the frontier at different times, places and situations.

This classic story of revenge begins with the tragic scene of a pastor’s family sitting in a secluded hut for a quiet dinner. A knock comes to the door and a masked bag enters. Immediately his parents are shot dead — for no apparent reason — and the boy with their trauma has a cross on his forehead.

A few years later, the boy-love-was a known outlaw, part of a gangster robbing other gangsters, and Buck was trapped in jail. Ai has been gradually chasing back accomplices since that terrible night. But then he learns that Buck himself may soon be free.

Love gangsters include Bill Pickett (Edi Gathegi) on his right arm, humorously talkative, quick young Jim Beckwourth (attractive RJ Cyler), and his ex, the woman he still loves, a beautiful stage coach.・ Mary (beat). Meanwhile, a bloody train takeover freed the prisoner’s back from the vault by his ally Toldi and sniper Crawford Goldsby (Stanfield). “I don’t particularly enjoy violence,” Bill doesn’t convince the victims.

One of the most visually distinctive scenes depicts a bank robbery in the white town of Maysville. Not only are the inhabitants white, but buildings, rocks, horses, and shingles — Samuel seems to point out how the westerns we grew up in were similarly whitewashed. In contrast, black towns like Redwood City, where the back awaits vengeful love, are full of all sorts of colors.

It all clearly leads to epic confrontations and important plot twists — but style is more important than the plots here, and the film certainly has style. Many come from a variety of soundtracks, including reggae, hip-hop and afrobeat, as well as original songs such as “My Guns Go Bang” played by JAY-Z and Kid Cudi. Antoinette Messum costumes are also great, especially for women.

Still, you might wish you had spent a little more time developing your character. Both romantic relationships here are more noteworthy, and some supporting characters don’t really get the chance to care for us.

But finally, there is a hint that some of these characters may reappear. Is it possible to support emotional firepower and demand a little less bullets?

This image, released by Netflix, shows Jonathan Majors (left) and Idris Elba in the “The Harder they Fall” scene.

Review: “Harder They Fall” Updates Westerns in Style

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