Wind River was written and directed by Taylor Sheridan who also wrote Sicario and Hell or High Water and was a very enjoyable movie. I was about to say it was a good mystery thriller, but it really isn’t a mystery. True, we don’t know “whodunit” but we’re led there through the course of the investigation step by step. It was a good crime thriller. I liked the cast, and I liked the story behind it all. It had the “fish out of water” idea, the rookie cop, the guy who helps the cops who can act outside the law. Lots of tropes, but still everything clicked.
I really liked the cast, and that was what initially drew me to Wind River. I’ve been an Elizabeth Olsen fan for some time now and again was quite impressed. The story was excellent hitting emotional and suspenseful notes equally well. Jeremy Renner was also good, and it was interesting to see the two interact with each other while not playing their MCU characters (Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye if you will).
When a young woman is found dead (and probably murdered) on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, young FBI Agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) from the Las Vegas field office is sent to investigate. Not familiar with the territory or the people she asks Fish and Wildlife Service agent and game tracker Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), who is accepted by the locals, to help her navigate the snowy terrain and the distrust of the locals. Banner also works closely with the local sheriff Ben (Graham Greene). The plot unfolds and we learn how the girl met her fate, and that she was best friends with Lambert’s own daughter who also died. The film shines a light on many of the darker aspects of reservation life, such as rampant violence, drug use, depression and of course the many, many unsolved cases of missing women. It is a sobering look, and one that draws you into the film at every turn.
I enjoyed the way the film played out, how the case was solved, who did it, and how they paid for their crime. At first I thought they were going to go a much different way with that payment…. I really thought Lambert was going to leave him to the mountain lion, but the way they did it was definitely satisfying. …A very good film all around, and even though it is full of tragedy it has a satisfying payoff.
Bottom Line: Graham Greene is a great actor, he’s been in such works as Green Mile, Dances With Wolves, and he played Mr. Crabby Tree on The Adventures of Dudley the Dragon…
Whether or not you will enjoy The Man on the Train will depend on your ability and desire to sit through a series of poetic verbal exchanges, between two unnamed characters. “The Professor”, a retired poetry teacher, played by Donald Sutherland; and “The Stranger”, a thief riding into the small town, played by Larry Mullen Jr.; the drummer from U2. Mullen’s character we discover is there to rob the local bank.
After a chance meeting in the local drug store, and a small act of kindness, Sutherland invites Mullen back to his house, and lets him stay the week, for both have plans on Saturday. Mullen to rob the bank, and Sutherland for heart surgery. Growing closer through their conversations, Sutherland ponders life as an outlaw and a stoic Mullen sees the advantages of his new friend’s more mundane existence. The Man on the Train did a nice job showing where our life choices take us, and where not choosing takes us as well, as we had two characters from drastically different lives who were each envious of where the other was.
For his part, Sutherland is excellent with witty poems, and soliloquies relaying most of the aspects of his life to this stranger. The non-stop barrage of character dialogue is a treat, and Sutherland’s enjoyment of the character is evident through the strength of his performance. It was nice to see Sutherland stand out in a leading role again, as he has really only been a supporting character of late. Mullen is a quieter character, not saying much, but really there to see the contrast of their two lives. Sutherland never left his hometown, never left his childhood house. Mullen is on the road, drifting from robbery to robbery, every bit the enigmatic outlaw. Some of the exchanges are intriguing, some amusing, and some almost create a father-son or mentor-student relationship between the two.
The film was a little slow, but Sutherland’s performance really made it worthwhile for me. Added to the supporting cast as the “driver” in Mullen’s crew was Graham Greene, who is always fun to have. From the opening scene of The Man on the Train, I felt a small sense of déjà vu, as a lot of the scenery looked eerily familiar. The clock tower and buildings at first reminded me of Niagara-on-the-Lake; a town about 15 minutes away from me, which served as the location for such films as The Ref and Trouble in Paradise. But upon seeing the sign on the local bank, I did realize that it was in fact Orangeville, Ontario; which is about 150 km from my home. We were treated to a fair bit of Canadian content in The Man on the Train, with Sutherland, Greene and the Orangeville scenery, which is always nice to see.