‘Sometimes I envy the finality of death…’
Westerns are boring, aren’t they? There is no getting away from it. They remind me of tedious Sunday afternoons with my dad asleep in his armchair, hand resting on the TV remote should I attempt to turn off whatever dross he was watching. You’d think over the years that the genre might have modernised. Become more exciting. And for a while, Hostile IS exciting. But then it settles into the usual drudgery of the western…
In 1892, Captain Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale) is tasked with one last order before his impending retirement. He must escort an imprisoned and sickly Cheyenne chief (Wes Studi) through dangerous terrain by order of the president of the United States of America. The recently widowed Rosalee (Rosamund Pike) goes along for the ride as well.
Hostile starts off promisingly with an electric opening that sees a family butchered and a house raised to the ground. Later, there are various gunfights between a wild tribe of Indians and rugged cowboys. Writer-director Scott Cooper imbues these scenes with a frantic and kinetic energy which makes you wonder why he doesn’t move away from westerns and into action films. The issue is that the rest of the film is dour and predictable. Bale is as affecting as ever and Pike’s harrowing screams of despair will pierce my nightmares for a long time to come, but the middle section of this movie sags so badly that the admittedly emotionally resonant conclusion doesn’t pack the emotional wallop that the performances deserve.
Look. Realistically, I just don’t like westerns, for fans of the genre, there is probably plenty here to enjoy. But for me? It was just more of the same.