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June 18, 2018

Hostiles (2017) --- "Follow This Guy's Journey Into The Most Hostile Place Of His Time. Who Will Survive?"

Plot Summary
In 1892, legendary Army Capt. Joseph Blocker reluctantly agrees to escort a dying Cheyenne war chief and his family back to their tribal land. Embarking on a harrowing and perilous journey from Fort Berringer, N.M., to the grasslands of Montana, they soon encounter a young widow whose family was killed on the plains. The travelers must now band together to survive a punishing landscape that's crawling with hostile Comanches and vicious outliers. (1)

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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
     In the 50’s, 60’s, and even a bit of the 70’s western films with John Wayne and Cowboy vs. Indians stories proliferated the big screen and small screen. The genre ran it’s course for 2 nearly 2 ½ decades but nowadays not very many western films have been made and the only way to revive it is to tell new and different stories set in the American West. This is exactly what Hostiles (2018) is, it’s a masterpiece. Director and Writer Scott Cooper (Black Mass; Crazy Heart) has brought to life the late Donald E. Stewart’s manuscript and while I have not read the manuscript I am sure that Stewart would have enjoyed seeing his work become a movie masterpiece.

     Today we are taught that the Native Americans were peace-loving and tranquil people until the white men came along, who were horrible and cruel. And why that perception is true, we must also remember that not all Native American’s were saints. There were most definitely certain Indians who gave their people a bad name just as there were certain white men who also gave their people a bad name. In other words, both races had their good guys and their bad guys, its just a matter if you let the bad ones speak for everyone. You can go to your grave believing that your prejudice is right but at the end of the day being “right” makes no difference. And Hostiles does just that. The story shows us both sides of the coin as well as perfectly balances the beauty of courage and necessity for forgiveness. We see a world that is wild, unkind, and unfair in all aspects; from the harsh terrain to the unpredictable. The story inspires the audience to have faith. We know that the world can be foreboding and cruel at times but we have to make the choice to be better; to let go of hate and learn to love. Hostiles are not meant to be about historical accuracy but rather it's about understanding what it must have been like to live in the 1800’s. In short, the story beautifully tells both sides of the specter and offers an inspiring message about courage, forgiveness, and love.
     Cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi (The Grey) elegantly captures the good and bad aspects of the film. We see both the harshness and the beauty that is the wild American frontier with stunning visuals from New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado. The visuals also capture the transformations that the characters go through, from anger to forgiveness and from hate to love. The stunning visuals were accompanied by an equally stunning music score by Max Richter (Morgan; Miss Sloane). The music also follows the story quite well and helps carry the
     The cast performances were amazing. Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl; 7 Days in Entebbe) is moving as a woman of resilience and loss, and Christian Bale (The Promise; Mowgli) is powerful in his conviction and humanity. They had great chemistry together and their transformation as individuals was great to see. I personally think that this is some of their best work. The Native Americans – Wes Studi (Last of the Mohicans), Adam Beach (Suicide Squad), Xavier Horsechief (Dawn), Q’orianka Kilcher (New World; The Alienist), and Tanaya Beatty (The Night Shift) – were great supporting characters alongside the fellow Union soldiers. The highlight of all the characters were the moments of silence between the characters. These silent moments not only allow the audience to see the transformation with very little dialogue but it also gives the actors the chance to showcase their talent. A great actor should be able to convey what their character is feeling and thinking without words and that is exactly what the actors do here. They use pure human emotion and facial expressions to say it all and by the end of the film your left feeling bittersweet.

     Overall, Hostiles (2018) is an inspiring film that gives audiences the opportunity to see both sides of the spectrum and ultimately ends with a bittersweet feeling of renewed hope for forgiveness and redemption. The cast gave powerful performances that required very little dialogue and a ton of pure emotion and expressions. Among the cast, I believe that Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike gave some of their best work to date. This is a truly great western film that has not been seen since Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven (1992), Kevin Costner’s Wyatt Earp (1994), Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Revenant (2015). Whether or not you’re a fan of Pike or Bale, let alone a fan of western films, I highly encourage you to go see Hostiles as you won’t regret it.

"If I did not have faith, what would I have?"
- Rosalie Quaid

Final Vote
Worth Seeing:  9 of 10 stars
Worth Buying:  9 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar 
Apocalypto (2006)
The Birth of a Nation (2016)
Cold Mountain (2003)
Dances with Wolves (1990)
Free State of Jones (2016)
Flags of Our Father (2006)
Fury (2014)
Last of the Mohicans (1992)
Lincoln (2012)
The New World (2005)
The Patriot (2000)
The Promise (2017)
The Proposition (2006)
The Road (2009)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Tombstone (1993)
War Horse (2011)
Wyatt Earp (1994)
The Way Back (2010)

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