Great motion pictures, you don’t just see – you feel ’em. From the frosty whips of winter wind to the ice cold demeanor of that certain character hitting the right notes, when it all clicks, a truly great motion picture burrows so deep, you can’t quite shake it. And rest assured, ‘Wind River’ is one great motion picture.
The title of the picture is not only the name of a Native American reservation in the Wyoming wild, it also provides a description of the unforgiving terrain. Here, among the snow covered brush and sub-zero temperatures is the scene of a grisly crime; an 18-year-old girl, raped, battered, barefoot and frozen to death, is discovered by U.S. Game and Wildlife agent Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner). And while it was the cold that ultimately killed her, FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen), clearly out of her weather element, is out to prove the girl was murdered. But to find the killer, she requires the assistance of Lambert, a crack shot at turning the lights out on all kinds of creatures, just not the two-legged variety.
For Lambert, he’s tragically been here before; his daughter was found in similar circumstances, leading to a divorce and the agent living a hollow shell of an existence. But since the local police chief (Graham Greene) doesn’t have near the manpower to cover a crime, not to mention such a vast area, Lambert agrees to be Banner’s hunter.
For Renner, this is his best performance since ‘The Hurt Locker’. Mind you, the material he has to work with here is top shelf. Writer/director Taylor Sheridan has a mesmerizing style in unfolding his story. ‘Wind River’ isn’t big on dialogue, but massive in substance; at its heart, this is a movie of catharsis, but it’s a long, disturbing and, at times, bloody trail to get there. Part western (complete with an old fashioned stand-off), part murder mystery and adorned in majestic cinematography, ‘Wind River’ could safely be branded as a masterpiece. And it’s not very often we dangle that tag out there.