Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer
Plot: When an outlaw discovers his enemy is being released from prison, he reunites his gang to seek revenge in this Western.
Review: As movie genres go Westerns are pretty low down on my list. It’s not that I don’t like them; it’s just that I spend most of my time wondering what people did before toilet paper. Don’t worry; I have the same issue when I watch a period piece.
This aside I do have a few favourites under my belt. The Quick and The Dead, 3:10 to Yuma (the remake), Tombstone and Posse all come to mind, just like they did while I watched Jeymes Samuel’s The Harder they Fall. Now I might not be an expert but I know who Sergio Leone is and the visual charisma found in this film is a direct callback to Westerns like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. I think this movie would’ve been amazing to see in theaters with its gorgeous wide shots that forces your eyes to try and take it all in in one go. I’m no cinematographer, but I know what I like and this movie is simply beautiful to look at.
The characters here are all pulled from the pages of history but that’s about as far as history goes. While names like Nat Love (Jonathan Majors from Lovecraft Country, Da 5 Bloods), Stagecoach Mary (Zazie Beetz from Deadpool 2, Joker), Jim Beckwurth (RJ Cyler from the Power Rangers reboot) Cherokee Bill (LaKeith Stanfield from Get Out, Judas and the Black Messiah) and probably the most recognisable name, Bass Reeves (veteran actor Delroy Lindo) who for those who don’t know was the inspiration behind The Lone Ranger, were all real people who lived in the Wild West. The story here, though, is 100 percent fictional and as a whole feels almost surreal and otherworldly in its execution. Part of this might have to do with the musical numbers chosen to accompany the film.
Now this is where I struggled, the music. Samuel actually wrote and performed under his stage name The Bullits and being a movie that focuses on the black people who had a part to play in this era but who until now have been heavily overlooked, his choice of songs and themes are meant to relate to the people and make you sit up and take notice. I also felt like there was a bit TOO MUCH of it and with moments like Rufus and Nat whistling the songs we just heard playing, I felt like I had accidentally sat down to watch a musical instead of a Western. While I think the soundtrack as a separate entity is quite good, I just couldn’t gel the genre with the tunes and it kept pulling me out of the timeline this is supposed to be occurring in.
Action and acting wise though I couldn’t find fault with anything. Jonathan Majors exploded on to the scene from seemingly nowhere and has suddenly become one of the most bankable leading men out there. His role as Nat Love, a young man on a road to vengeance, plays perfectly against Idris Elba’s world weary but still terrifying Rufus Buck. While some may find the long conversations between characters to be tedious (admittedly I myself struggled with this at times) every single character leaves their mark in some way. And with the likes of Regina King (having a blast playing a villain) as Buck’s right hand “Treacherous” Trudy Smith and any of the previous mentioned talented actors all bringing their A-game, it’s no wonder these characters are so memorable.
Violence begets violence is the main theme at play here and the action with its old school over-the-top blood splatter, hand-to-hand combat that makes you feel every hit (and of course the final scene being a huge shoot out that goes on for some time) there’s a lot here for fans of Westerns to appreciate.
Sommer’s Score: 6.5 out of 10
For more of my thoughts on the film you can check out my video review below:
So what did you think of The Harder They Fall? And you can check out more Western content below:
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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