With Thor and the Hulk pairing up in Thor: Ragnarok, and Spider-Man and Iron Man teaming up in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Hollywood has taken the next logical step and given Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch their own movie.
Set on a Native American reservation in Wyoming, this thriller follows a hunter (Jeremy Renner) and an FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen), as they work together to investigate the murder of an 18-year-old woman. Continuing the socially conscious streak of Hell or High Water, writer Taylor Sheridan moves into the director’s chair, and gives the picture a dark, frosty atmosphere that’s not unlike those Scandi noirs you get on BBC Four about dysfunctional detectives wearing jumpers.
At the same time, Wind River is in firmly American territory. Native American, to be precise, using Western imagery and Hollywood clichés to explore the uninhabitable wilderness into which the indigenous population are forced. As in the Sheridan-penned Sicario, the idea that the FBI would send a young woman into impossibly dangerous situations without back-up or appropriate footwear is quite unconvincing, but it’s nice to see how much Sheridan loves Clarice Starling. And there’s enough tension, intrigue and social commentary to keep things interesting.
Sheridan shoots the stunning, snow-engulfed landscapes with menace, soundtracked by the roar of snowmobile engines and another haunting score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining echoes around the snow-covered mountains, driving home Sheridan’s message about the blood shed on Native American ground, and of violent history repeating itself.
Olsen and Renner are on good form. We meet him as he confronts a wolf, in a kind of rematch from that time he blew one up in The Bourne Legacy. You’d have thought a man with such a wounded puppy face would have better canine relations. My only major reservation (pun intended) is that there’s no reason why the character, whose whole family is Native American, shouldn’t be. In a film that’s explicitly about the plight of the Native Americans, this seems relevant. I know he’s called Hawkeye, but that doesn’t make it ok.