The Stream: Some lulls here and there since the plot is very basic
The Big Screen: What an awesome cast and a bangin’ soundtrack.
The Final Bill: This Western checks all the boxes you want your gun-slinging movies to check.– Trip Fontaine
Director: Jeymes Samuel
Writers: Jeymes Samuel and Boaz Yakin
Stars: Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Regina King, LaKeith Stanfield, and Zazie Beetz
Genre: Western, Drama
Rating: Rated R (for strong violence and language)
Runtime: 2 hours 10 minutes
Production Companies: Overbrook Entertainment, Netflix
Platform: In Theaters (October 22, 2021); Netflix (November 3, 2021)
Who doesn’t love a bloody revenge tale? If it’s set in the wild, wild west, then that’s even better. Nothing can be more entertaining than shoot outs, saloons, and outlaws. The Harder They Fall, which opened in limited release last Friday and premieres on Netflix next week, has it all in spades. I took a trek to the theater to catch this stylish Western with a stacked cast; and here’s how it went down.
The plot of The Harder They Fall is relatively simple and like most Westerns it centers on one man’s quest for revenge. Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) is on a quest to avenge the brutal murders of his mother and father. Love has to track down Rufus Buck (Idris Elba) and every member of his gang, which includes the brutal and devious, Trudy Smith (Regina King) and the quickdraw Cherokee Bill (LaKeith Stanfield). Love’s crew of outlaws, which has otherwise been preoccupied with robbing bank robbers, sets out to find Buck after he has been busted out of prison. Bloody hijinks ensue. (Side Note: I kept thinking about bloody Tarantino movies – there may be some inspiration from those films)
Jeymes Samuel directs this stylish and anachronistic Western filled with an all star cast. While this is Samuel’s first major motion picture as a director, he has a background in music and it shows. On top of that, Jay-Z is involved as a producer. The bona fides of Samuel and Jay-Z are front and center with a top notch soundtrack that infuses each scene with cool energy. Although the plot is pretty basic, the dialogue has an amount of wit and swagger that bring such fun to this film. The director has been able to bring modern sensibility to the old West through the language, casting and production values. The technical achievements here in the costumes, production design and sound only make the film that much more enjoyable. There are a few lulls in the action here and there, but for the most part, it’s a wild ride that doesn’t let up.
I’ll note that this cast is a who’s who of Black Hollywood. Let me run this down for you right quick. Jonathan Majors keeps getting great roles and knocking them out of the park. It is good to see him in the lead, and he does a good job centering this film. The specter of Idris Elba looms large throughout. He is perfectly cast as Rufus Buck and gets to be the menacing presence behind the curtain. Regina King kills it in this fun role. She gets to kick butt and take names. I would not want to meet her character in any dark alley. Then, LaKeith Stanfield brings his swagger and cool to Cherokee Bill. These four are highlights, but Delroy Lindo, Zazie Beetz, Deon Cole, RJ Cyler and Damon Wayans, Jr., each, get great moments too.
Ultimately, The Harder They Fall is a great Western that has fun music cues, a cool cast, and epic fight scenes worth your time. This is an easy big box of popcorn, especially when it debuts on Netflix.