By: Amanda Guarragi
Good Westerns are hard to come by. The genre has had a difficult time being modernized because those stories are considered outdated and an inaccurate representation of America for some. Westerns continue to be made, but it’s up to the director to add something different in order to entertain the general audience; an audience conditioned to only enjoy action movies in this particular climate. Director Jeymes Samuel fills The Harder They Fall with his style and makes something so unique in the process. It’s all about taking the conventions that came before and improving upon the genre itself.
The film begins with this family eating dinner at the table, when there is a knock on the door. The father opens the door and let’s the well-known outlaw in. His son was seated at the table, when some terrible things happen in front of him. That little boy grew up to be Nate Love (Jonathan Majors), who eventually becomes an outlaw himself. Nate Love finds out that Rufus Buck (Idris Elba) has been pardoned and released from prison. Nate gets his band back together to go serve some justice in Redwood. Samuel set up this story, so the audience could understand the characters and their backstories without over explaining their past.
Samuel sets the tone from the very beginning with his punchy opening credits and wicked soundtrack. You get a sense of who these characters are and what being an outlaw is all about. The Western genre can get generic and a bit dull, but Samuel made this so entertaining and engaging. Thanks to his wonderful, charismatic cast, their chemistry is what made this film complete. We have Jonathan Majors, who has such a presence on-screen and he has this kinetic star power rarely seen today. Idris Elba is an older, more ruthless outlaw, and it was great to see him in this role. Then the badass women of the cast, Regina King, Danielle Deadwyler and Zazie Beetz brought such fun, complex characters to life. To round out the main cast, Delroy Lindo, LaKeith Stanfield, Edi Gathegi and newcomer RJ Cyler all brought something different to the table.
The Harder They Fall dives into the world of these outlaws and what they represent. This wasn’t a true story but these characters were real at some point throughout American history. Their story being told in such a vibrant, modernized way really breathed life into a rather outdated genre. It has some great moments between characters and it is also funny at times. Everything about this movie was interesting to watch and it all comes down to the Jeymes Samuel who had a clear vision of what he wanted to do with this Western. Majority of the cast had their time to shine but Majors and Elba stole the show for me. Do not miss this movie on Netflix; it’s one of my favourite movies of the year.