Wind River Movie Review
Lesson one: don’t run six miles through the snow, barefoot.
Lesson two: don’t mess with Jeremy Renner.
Wind River, from the writer of Sicario and Hell or High Water, is a captivating mystery-thriller set on a remote Native American reservation. After a young woman is found dead in the snow, an FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) partners with a game tracker (Renner) and local police to investigate.
What ensues is a relatively standard procedural elevated by strong writing, solid performances and snowy, windswept scenery. Sheridan has proven to be a terrific writer, and in his first big directing gig (his only other directorial credit is for a 2011 horror movie you’ve never heard of) proves to be a talented director as well.
Sheridan has been cited as seeking stories that are “absurdly simple” so he can focus on writing rich characters, and Wind River follows in this vein. That’s both a positive—Wind River, while not exactly a rapidly paced film, stays in gear as the characters perform a rather straightforward albeit interesting investigation—and negative—the movie plays like a murder mystery until Sheridan decides to just show us exactly what happened and switch to action mode.
The climax comes so abruptly you have to wonder how much greater Wind River could have been had he allowed his protagonists to do a little more sleuthing to figure out the truth instead of just dropping them into the thick of things.
Nonetheless, Sheridan largely makes up for the lack of mystery by making the climax pretty damn entertaining to watch. The big flashback is also effectively shocking and powerful.
Wind River isn’t as captivating as Sheridan’s other written works, but it’s a solid directorial debut and efficiently told suspense-thriller that deserves more recognition than it’s received. And Jeremy Renner is a badass.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.