Hostiles – 4/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Hostiles – 4/5 – In today’s film industry, one of the rarest genres you see are Westerns.  Outside of the typical clichés that are known (the hero cowboy, the villain natives, the damsel in distress), what makes a great Western is its combination of characters, atmosphere and dialogue.  With these elements, it can drive the audience on a journey that captures the essence of being in the wild west.  Hostiles delves into the journey of one character, who must learn the truth through the eyes of an enemy.  With great characters and a journey that takes many forms, Hostiles shows that with the right combination, you can have a great Western.

Premise: At the turn of the century, a legendary Army captain must escort a Cheyenne chief and his family back to their homeland.

In the lead role of Capt. Joseph Blocker is Christian Bale.   Bale commands the screen by capturing the essence of the era.  He exudes the layers of a man worn down by service to his country, which drives him to have biased intentions towards the natives.  With the turn of the century in the United States, he is faced with new things that test his ability to be a great soldier.  Having conflict with beliefs vs honor, the layers of his own prejudice reveal the ongoing struggle with others in the film.  From the prisoners, soldiers and others he encounters, he dances the line with ease.  He gives you a raw, broken and visceral human that must see the truth of that situation.  The conflict gives you a well-rounded individual that must evolve.  Bale is at his finest, showing that he can be great in any genre.  For the rest of the cast, please refer to the film’s IMDb page.  There are a lot of notable names (Ben Foster, Rosamund Pike, Stephen Lang), and they all do an amazing job creating a group of morale contrived individuals.  The secondary cast creates a world that evolves through dialogue and conflict.  Facing their own morality, the façades of the world is layered with uneasy alliances and unpredictable interactions.  This adds a strong human element where you feel, see and breathe what it means to live with only your wits and manners in the west.

The direction invokes a deeply character tale that shows the purpose of the journey.  By combining two common elements, you get to see a Western that evolves through a methodical approach of dialogue, character dynamic and thematic presence.  We are introduced to Capt. Joseph Blocker, on his final tour in the military out west, is tasked with one more job by his superiors.  Signed officially by the President, he must escort an infamous Native American to his homeland to die in peace.  With the basic premise of the setup, characters and journey out of the way, the audience is led into a story that moves at a subtle and unpredictable pace.  As Blocker weaves through the countryside, mountains and treacherous desert, you see his group must encounters many obstacles along the way.  Living two sides of the same coin, each of the characters (including Blocker) know that success of the journey must supersede prejudice, situations and individual demons.  This leads to dialogue that drives the emotional core of the story.  This invokes certain decisions that creates a respectable accord for the group of travelers.  You see the human sides that blind, giving off the theme of survival related to the era.  The themes exude through multiple angles, showing how individuals, society and consequences lead to a hazy ‘moral code’.  The slow pacing and the use of physical mannerism, unpredictable situations and subtle dialogue elevates the journey.  Once the film hits its climax, it divulges into common clichés related to Westerns (Stand offs, final revelations and the ultimate decision).  Once the epilogue roles, you are left with a feeling of the full circle treatment.  You are witness to something more than just a journey, you see a person that has come to terms with what is truly right in life.

The cinematography is a mixture of close quarters and grand vistas.  You get a lot of great panorama views of mountains, desert and sprawling fields.  In that, you feel as if you’re part of the journey, going along trying to fulfill the quest.  Outside of the gleaming world, the close quarters grounds everything to the era.  From the Forts, towns and campsites, it adds another layer of believability to the film.  The score is very common for a western, invoking the gunfights and emotional interactions between certain individuals.

Hostiles is a Western that captures everything great about the genre.  With great characters, a riveting journey and strong themes, you won’t be disappointed.  If you’re a fan of Westerns, this is one for you.  It is worth the full price at the theater.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *