Review: ‘Wind River’ is the Sleeper Film of the Summer

Gripping and chilling, this slow burner is an absolute must-see. 

RATING: ★★★1/2 (out of four stars)

Sleeper hits are some of my favorite movies in cinema. Each year, there are always one or two movies that few people attend, but everyone absolutely needs to see. For 2017, Wind River is one of those movies. It is a very well-crafted film with great writing and acting. With that said, it’s what I expected from writer Taylor Sheridan, who wrote Sicario and Hell or High Water, which are both excellent action thrillers. However, with Wind River being Sheridan’s first mid-size budget movie, this is an impressive feat for someone whose career as a director now seems to be as bright as anyone else’s in Hollywood.

Wind River is a very slow-burning film. Taylor Sheridan spends a lot of time crafting the characters and giving them depth. That being said, the first act is interesting but not as captivating. However, it pays off because you care about the characters and you understand what they’re struggling with. Corey Lambert (Jeremy Renner) portrays a wildlife hunter in Wyoming. He comes across the dead body of Natalie (Kelsey Asbille) while searching for some lions in the mountains of the Wind River reservation. This brings FBI Agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) to the state, and now we have our suspenseful murder film. Don’t think this is just another murder movie, though. Wind River is much more than that because of the writing.

The 2nd and 3rd acts are very well executed. As the story progresses and more clues are discovered, the plot becomes even more engaging. Corey and Jane work together to search the mountains because no one knows them better than Corey. What they find is shocking and chilling. It becomes next to impossible to take your eyes off the screen during the final 35 minutes or so as there are a few scenes that are very intense. Both Renner and Olsen turn in fantastic performances; they both do a great job of carrying the remainder of the cast.

What really makes Wind River superb is how real it feels. (It is inspired by true events.) The screenplay does a good job of demonstrating how Native American people often go missing without the same official records of their disappearance that are maintained for other races. Even though some of the movie is fictionalized, you get the feel that it really happened. The writing is very direct and to the point, but it doesn’t shove the message down your throat or force it. For that reason, it is one of the better screenplays of the year.

It is unfortunate that a lot of people will miss out on Wind River simply because the marketing hasn’t been big for this project. However, in a time where summer begins to wind down and we’re given bottom of the barrel big budget studio movies, Wind River is definitely worth your time and money. Do yourself a favor and go check it out in theaters if it’s playing near you.