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Blu-ray Review: Hostiles

May 15, 2018

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

Set in 1892, Hostiles follows army captain Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale), who is ordered to escort the dying Cheyenne chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) and his family back to their tribal lands in Montana.  Along the journey, Blocker’s army is also tasked with protecting the widowed Rosalie Quaid (Rosamund Pike), after coming across the farmhouse where her family was murdered.

The latest from filmmaker Scott Cooper, Hostiles is a decent period piece that often plays with the look and feel of an old Western, albeit with a somewhat more nuanced approach to how it explores the conflicts between the colonial settlers and Native Americans.

The film operates in some interesting shades of grey in how it presents the different characters, opening with a harrowing sequence in which Rosalie’s family is brutally murdered by Comanche warriors, followed by a scene in which the white soldiers led by Captain Blocker savagely round up an Apache family.  While this choice might seem a bit heavy-handed, it also allows the film to paint a more even portrait of the time rather than the one-sided and outdated “Cowboys vs Indians” stereotype of many classic Westerns.

There are still some more problematic elements to the film that could lead to accusations of it having a “white saviour” narrative, and it moves at a slow pace and sometimes sags under the weight of its over two hour running time.  But the production design and performances are solid enough to make Hostiles worth a look, and the film is bolstered by impressive cinematography of the wide open frontier vistas.

The Blu-ray also includes the featurette The Actor’s Actors.

Hostiles is an Elevation Pictures release.  It’s 130 minutes and rated 14A.

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