Hostiles Movie Review

Feb 17, 2018, 08:05 IST | Johnson Thomas

The film opens in 1892 with a massacre of a family by the vicious Comanche war party, in which only the mother survives

Christian Bale in a still from Hostiles

A: Action drama
Dir: Scott Cooper
Cast: Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Wes Studi

The film opens in 1892 with a massacre of a family by the vicious Comanche war party, in which only the mother survives. The scene is brutal, but the visuals minimalistic. There’s no violence voyeurism at play here. And that’s how director Scott Cooper sets the tone for the film - sombre, intense and reflective underlined by an acute threat perception.

A revisionist morality play about redemption, the narrative shifts from the scene of the massacre to a cavalry fort where Captain Joseph Blocker (Bale) is given an assignment he would rather not take up. He has been ordered to escort the Cheyenne Chief Yellow Hawk (Studi) and his family, imprisoned in the fort and now being given clemency, to his home in Montana.

Joseph’s hatred towards the Indians is well-documented and so is the brutality of the native Indian tribe. The suspicion and distrust between the soldiers and the Cheyenne is palpable. The journey from Fort Berringer, New Mexico, to the grasslands of Montana is perilous. Cooper captures it with tonal astuteness.

Max Richter’s remarkable background score and Masanabu Takayanagi’s earthy camerawork lend credibility to the experience. The performances are the icing on the cake - if Bale is fierce, Pike puts on a heart-breaking performance while Studi is dignified. Scripted by Cooper from a manuscript by Donald E Stewart, the story has nothing new to offer, but the experience is certainly breathtaking.

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