Wow! If you are looking for a light-hearted Western, look elsewhere. If you are looking for time-tested Cowboy and Indian tropes, this is not your film. If you want a realistic look at the ugly side of war, hatred and violence, this is your film.
Now, I’ve hinted at the visceral brutality of the film but let me come out and say it. This is a violent movie. There is one scene where my chest tightened and eyes even got a bit misty.
Christian Bale gives what could be his best performance (and that is saying alot.) This film was much more than a Bale vehicle though. The entire cast did a great job. Wes Studi is always great and his portrayal of an dying Cheyenne war chief being returned his homeland was perfect. Ben Foster and Jesse Plemons were solid as well. The biggest surprise had to be Rosamund Pike – not because I wasn’t expecting a good job from her… it was more because she was so convincing in Gone Girl that I was sure I wouldn’t be able to see her any different. In Hostiles, she completely transformed and after about 30 seconds I had forgetting that previous character.
I was totally expecting this to be another Hollywood “the white man is mean to the noble savage” film. But it wasn’t. Scott Cooper (director & screenplay) did a great job to showing both sides. He made it clear that both sides were flawed and both sides suffered the consequences of their bitter hatred.
Because it was so fair to reality, don’t expect it to show up in any Oscar lists. But if you are a fan of acting, I think you’d agree that Bale deserves consideration at the very least.
RATING 9 out of 10
by Chris Doelle