Plot: Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) is a skilled tracker, working for the local Fish & Wildlife Service to hunt down dangerous predators. His latest assignment is to track and hunt whatever has killed some lifestock, which the locals think is a mountain lion, given the circumstances. The hunt takes him to a reservation where he has deep roots, including his former in-laws, so this is a trip with personal ties. As he studies the tracks, he realizes three lions are responsible and as he follows the signs, he discovers a body frozen in the snow. Tribal law enforcement calls in the feds, as signs of potential sexual assault are evident, which leads to the arrival of Agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen), who is not prepared for the frigid locale. She feels out of place, but is driven to piece the case together, so she enlists the help of Lambert, who knows the area and seems to have a personal stake. But with intense conditions and minimal evidence, can even a master tracker hunt down the truth in this case?
Entertainment Value: I had some trepidation about Wind River, as I am not a big fan of Jeremy Renner, but the movie turns out to be a rock solid thriller. The movie takes more time than most to flesh out the characters, even minor ones, and make the local culture and landscape an integral part of the narrative. A recurring theme is what the harsh locale and social isolation can do to people, bolstering some and sending others into a downward spiral. The tone is dark and often oppressive, which means even the faintest of lights is seen brightly. Renner is capable in his role, playing it well and I’d rank this as one of his better efforts. Elizabeth Olsen seems like an odd choice for her role at first, but it makes sense, as her out of place presence is part of the narrative and is what makes her character’s drive even more remarkable. If you’re here for Jon Bernthal, he has a small role, but his performance is fine. The supporting cast is excellent as well, so even minor roles feel important and have solid depth. The movie works well as a murder mystery/thriller, but it is also character driven and is by no means just another police procedural picture. I found Wind River to be a strong, powerful movie that never shies away from some sensitive subjects, while also providing a gripping thriller, so this one is well recommended.
A brief bare ass shot and some corpse bush, but that’s all the nakedness. A rape scene is present and it is harrowing, but doesn’t get graphic in the depiction of the crime, though it is still an intense, heartbreaking sequence. The movie has some shoot outs and takes an intimate approach to those moments, so this feels like a grounded violence, not wild action scenes. The powerful rifle Lambert uses does cause some insane carnage, but bloodshed is mostly minimal. An autopsy scene has a flayed corpse on display, but the camera doesn’t linger on the visceral elements. A cutting scene has a little blood as well, but not graphic, just enough to show us what has happened. The movie is well written and has some remarkable character depth, but as we score for wild dialogue, there’s not much of that here. So don’t the score fool you, as the movie is well written, it is just grounded and doesn’t offer much outlandish banter. In terms of craziness, the movie is again grounded and serious, so it doesn’t have wild scenes or over the top chaos.
Overall Insanity: 0/10