After Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan’s chilling and haunting mystery Wind River completes the thrilling trilogy with skill and suspense.
Set in the cold land of the Wind River Indian Reservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) discovers the body of a young 18-year old girl, bare foot and bloodied, lying face down in the snow. FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) comes on board to determine whether a murder has been committed. With Cory knowing the land better than anyone he teams up with Jane in the hunt for the killer.
With the battering wind and heavy snowfall offering an unsettling setting for the film, it is a new place for Jane Banner, as she has come from Las Vegas like a fish-out-of-water this part of America is new to her, as well as the characters that occupy. As the complexity of who has the right derestriction of the reservation comes into play it seems the location is a struggle for Jane, however she has Cory to help, grief-stricken by the death of his own daughter at a similar age, Cory knows he can and must help, after not being there for his own daughter, the situation acts as a redemption for himself
With Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olson leading the line we get two incredible performances from them, Jeremy Renner’s heartache shows clearly as he tries to hide it. He has accepted it and knows nothing can be done but the pain is there and will always be there, but he uses this to drive himself to catch the killer, he never stops and is determined to do what he does best, hunt. Meanwhile Elizabeth Olson’s character Jane enters the picture as a rookie and an outsider to someone who is understanding of the land they are on and what it means.
Furthermore, the environment acts as another character; the land itself is a friend, and a foe. The snowfall leaves tracks leading them on the right paths, however in a race against time it covers them up with constant blizzards, the -20 degrees cold air can kill anyone running through it rapidly and as the land offers nothing for miles around, it can ruin people who live in it, deathly beautiful it is an incredible backdrop. The bright White Mountains and open-air means Sheridan takes a simple approach to the film, with spectacular wide shots showing just how lost you can get and how lonely some people can be.
All in all this film is about control and family, control of the land around as it being about native Americans, control over people and having authority, the sadness of how people think they can control women and control over family and how an uneven balance can result in horror. The criminality of this is superbly shown as Sheridan has done in the loose trilogy of Sicario and Hell or High Water, the consequences are harsh and life is unfair, a common thread throughout the trilogy.
Overall, Wind River is a suspenseful journey through grief and fear, with underlying themes covering American land and its people, alongside an incredible script, great performances and an eerie atmosphere.