Wednesday, December 15, 2021

The Harder They Fall

Although fictional, writer/director Jeymes Samuel's film is inspired by real outlaws, cowboys, and lawmen of color from the Wild West. The primary character of The Harder They Fall is Nat Love (Jonathan Majors). Tormented as a boy by outlaw Rufus Buck (Idris Elba), Love has grown into an outlaw who hunts and kills other outlaws while still seeking revenge for the massacre of his family.

With Majors and Elba, Samuel has the two pillars he needs to make the film work while surrounding each man with an assortment of strong characters played by the likes of Zazie Beetz, Edi Gathegi, Danielle Deadwyler, Regina King, LaKeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, and Delroy Lindo. When circumstances allow the Buck Gang to free their leader, Rufus Buck returns to the western town of Redwood. This puts Nat Love, and his friends, and Rufus Buck, and his gang, on a collision course for an extended shoot-out on the Main Street of Redwood.

Samuel provides a stylish western, building on the foundation of multiple tropes of the genre that makes the most out of both its cast and script. The leads are terrific. Majors' Nat Love provides the complicated outlaw hero seeking vengeance while Elba's Rufus Buck offers a palpable evil force of nature standing in his way. That said, it's the women who steal many of the movie's best scenes. I'd sign-up for a sequel right now featuring Beets, King, and Deadwyler.  If I have a nit to pick it's with the late revelation that although makes sense in the context of the tale, feels a bit on-the-nose and more than a little forced and weary. Still, given how well the rest of the movie works, I can't hold this too much against a film that otherwise works so well.

Watch the trailer

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