review by Bobby Blakey
I love a good western but it seems these days we just don’t get enough of them that really have some meat to them. There have been a few in the last couple of years, but sadly more often than not the few we get on the straight to home release market are just not all that great. The latest, Hostiles from Out of the Furnace and Black Mass director Scott Cooper features a great cast including Christian Bale, Wes Studi, Rosamund Pike, Adam Beach, Stephen Lang, Jesse Plemons, Rory Cochrane, and Timothee Chalamet, but does it live up to the title or will it be an ambush you just can’t get through?
Hostiles follows a legendary Army Captain, who after stern resistance, reluctantly agrees to escort a dying Cheyenne war chief 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, 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. From the first sequence you know you are in for a rough ride here. It pulls no punches to the violence and might make it hard for some people to watch. This isn’t overly graphic but those involved and how it plays out is pretty intense. This is an important element as it is setting up a lot of what’s to come and it is not a happy ride.
This is one of the best western’s I have seen in some time, but it is also pretty depressing for most of the film. This isn’t to bring you down so much as it is to show how hard and violent this time period really was. We have been so programmed to have an opinion of the old west and the showdowns at dawn that we often forget that it was called the wild west for a reason. These are treacherous times and often times people went through hell from the elements and sadly other people. This story is all about the aggression and war between the Native Americans and those that are not. What is often forgotten is that within the varying tribes they fought with each other as well which is also on the front line.
The performances are excellent across the board with Christian Bale carrying the biggest load and knocking it out of the park. His character is morose and hardened, but filled with hate and rage to the people that have taken so much from him. His journey is interesting to watch but never shy’s away from reminding you that he has his own troubles to live with. The always great Wes Studi and Adam Beach offer up great moments as well, but with a more subdued silent approach for a lot of the movie due to the circumstances they are in. Rosamund Pike has the most emotional journey to deal with and has to bounce through a range of emotions and situations and through them all you feel her pain and growth.
In the end this is an amazingly beautiful film thanks to sweeping landscapes and excellent cinematography, but it is countered by violence and darkness that you reminds you how brutal it all really can be. This is a brilliant film and one that will no doubt become a classic in the western genre, but just know going in that it is really heavy in the best way possible.
This release not only includes the film but bonus featurettes that take you behind bringing this film to life including a 3 part documentary making of feature and more. Venture into the dangers of the west with Hostiles available now on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.