Actor-turned-writer-turned-writer/director Taylor Sheridan became well-known for screenwriting the critically acclaimed 2015 crime-thriller Sicario. In 2016 he became better-known for his Oscar nominated screenplay Hell or High Water. This year he’ll be best known for writing and directing Wind River, a snoozefest of a film that can only be described as painfully boring. Inspired by real events, the film follows an FBI murder investigation. FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) is summoned to a remote snowy Native American reservation after the body of a teenage girl is found by local hunter Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner). Given Banner’s lack of resources and Cory’s extensive knowledge of the area, she persuades him to help her with the case.
Wind River might not be boring enough to put you to sleep, but equally, it’s not exciting enough to make you want to stay awake. The script is so dull that the first eighty minutes of dialogue make small talk sound exciting. The stale conversations between Banner and Lambert only highlight the lack of chemistry between Olsen and Renner, which is worrying considering their history as co-stars in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Elizabeth Olsen has proved herself a worthy actress in past films but here she doesn’t settle into her role as an FBI agent and therefore doesn’t pull it off with confidence. Jeremy Renner on the other hand adopts his character’s disturbed demeanour so well that you can barely tell he’s acting.
The few stimulating conversations written into the script are spaced so far apart they get lost in the blander than bland storyline. Sheridan does redeem himself ever so slightly with his surprisingly well-rounded directing but it’s not enough to distract from his basic screenplay. The soundtrack almost is though. Composers Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’s soundtrack is made up of haunting string music, which unlike Sheridan’s script, is pleasing to the ear. Think the Game of Thrones theme tune but much slower.
They say good things come to those who wait, which in this case means sitting through over eighty minutes of drivel before the story starts to pick up. Sheridan packs the last third of the film with uncomfortable tension, adding to the already unsettling atmosphere the film’s snowy setting creates. Had the first two thirds of the film played out like the this, it would have been an excellent film. But they didn’t, and so it’s not. The story can be credited for raising awareness of a worrying and very real issue- there are no statistics for the number of Native American girls that go missing. But that is just one positive in a sea of far too many negatives.