The Harder They Fall is a new Western film debuting on Netflix today (Nov. 3) that has an amazing cast and should satisfy most fans of the genre.
The film tells a revenge tale between two long-time enemies. When outlaw Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) discovers that his enemy Rufus Buck (Idris Elba) is being released from prison he rounds up his gang to track Rufus down and seek revenge.
Those riding with him include his former love Stagecoach Mary (Zazie Beetz), his right and left hand men–hot-tempered Bill Pickett (Edi Gathegi) and fast drawing Jim Beckwourth (R.J. Cyler)–and a surprising adversary-turned-ally.
Rufus Buck has his own fearsome crew, including “Treacherous” Trudy Smith (Regina King) and his own fast draw, Cherokee Bill (LaKeith Stanfield). They are not a group that knows how to lose, nor do they like to leave survivors.
The two first met when Love was a young boy but it seems the two have an even deeper history.
Written by director Jeymes Samuel, who also scored the film, The Harder They Fall at times seems more concerned with being stylish than telling the story. There are beautiful wide panoramic shots, and a semi-modern take on Western soundtracks, but sometimes the scenes feel bereft of real emotion.
And what’s this…a romantic love song sung by Nat to Mary? When did this become a musical? It’s a little weird within the context of this movie, as is the blue skinned dancer in the saloon.
The cast play characters that are named after actual people from the Old West, but many of the events in the film are not real. We also don’t really get to know the characters well before we’re thrust into the heart of the story. You get a feel for them, but nothing too deep.
The film is full of large-scale gun fights and other violence, and most every character has a high level of braggadocio that causes confrontations at regular intervals. Those who enjoy a lot of action sequences and violence in their Westerns will find this film delivers
Luckily this cast is so strong, they make up for the at-times wobbly story and dialogue. Stand-out performances come from King and Elba, who seem to relish playing such uncompromisingly evil characters, as well as Danielle Deadwyler who makes the most of her role of Cuffee.
I’m giving The Harder They Fall a 4 out of 5 stars. It’s a fun and satisfying Western that borrows from its inspirations, but works to forge its own path.
THE HARDER THEY FALL (2021)
Director: Jeymes Samuel
Cast: Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Regina King, Zazie Beetz, Delroy Lindo, Lakeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, Danielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi, Deon Cole
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