Reviewed by Connor Kanto
This movie floored me. I went to see Wind River and only heard small things about the movie. I never even saw a trailer for it. But I did know this much: Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) is a wildlife officer who finds the body of an 18-year-old woman on an American Indian reservation in snowy Wyoming. FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olson) arrives to investigate. In my opinion, that's all you need to know. From the opening shot of the movie you feel cold. Sheridan puts you into the snowy Wyoming winter. But let me just say this before I go further in depth: if you want to be as clueless as I was going in, GO SEE THIS MOVIE! If you don’t think Dunkirk was the first "Oscar bait" movie, Wind River is.
Let’s talk about the cast a little bit.
Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olson are outstanding. They should both be nominated for Lead Actor and Supporting Actress. They do a great job of making the plot feel real and portraying realistic emotions. On screen, Olson is the new person in Wind River which is evident when she first shows up without winter clothes. Renner is a local who's knowledge of the land proves to be a valuable asset in the investigation. Their chemistry is great and Olson’s character depends on Renner to make it out there.
Now let’s talk about Gil Birmingham who plays the father of the dead girl. He is damaged. When we first meet him, he is a tough guy who doesn’t need anyone. But once Renner shows up, he breaks down and it is heart-wrenching to watch. He is in there for a small amount of time but he is so impactful.
In addition to the acting talent, I must congratulate Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water, Sicario) for writing another outstanding script and for the first time directing. You would have thought he was a veteran behind the camera because he makes this so flawlessly. He writes a movie that makes people feel like people and not like most crime movie caricatures. Also, I want to congratulate him for filming in snow and during blizzards. This is no easy task.
Ben Richardson's cinematography is also great. I have not seen any other movies he has worked on but hopefully they look as good as this one. Yes, there is shaky camera and to some that might be annoying. But it is done so well unlike Jason Bourne who practically did it to cover up how bad the movie was. Richardson uses it because A) they are filming in snow and B) it effectively immerses you. I think this worked like a charm.
Now let’s briefly talk about the negatives. My major flaw is that Renners’ character has a kid who seems like he is forced in. He is in the movie for all of 10 minutes and he is very insignificant. Also, the music was up and down. At times I thought it was repetitive and it seemed like free music that I could find online. But other times it sounded very well done.
Overall, this was an outstanding movie. I don’t love it as much as Hell or High Water but it was very good. Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olson should both be nominated. This movie should not be overlooked! If you don’t want to see IT or Kingsman: The Golden Circle this month, go out and see Wind River.