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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Hostiles': A Starkly Compelling Neo-Western Tale of Brutality, Injustice and Conciliation


Movie poster for Hostiles (2017)

Hostiles (2017) is a vivid and riveting neo-western starring Christian Bale as Joseph Blocker, a U.S. Army captain forced to escort ailing Cheyenne Chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) and his family from New Mexico to Montana. Set in the year 1892, the storyline follows Blocker and his modest company of soldiers as they set out from Fort Berringer on a 1,200 mile trek to deliver the Cheyenne family to their tribal home.


Seething with resentment toward the Cheyenne for atrocities he has experienced throughout his career, Blocker finds his assignment further complicated by the discovery of a horrific Comanche massacre—Rosalee Quaid (Rosamund Pike) the only remaining survivor. Taking Quaid under their wing, the detachment continues on to Fort Winslow, Colorado where they are additionally assigned transport of disgraced sergeant Philip Wills (Ben Foster) to his execution on charges of murder. These unanticipated developments serve as ominous turns, as the party progresses northward through increasingly dangerous terrain—Blocker and his men facing growing uncertainty and threat of peril.


Written for the screen and directed by American filmmaker Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart, Black Mass), Hostiles is an ardent tale of survival crafted in the form of revisionist western. Bale and Pike augment a superb cast with their fiercely impassioned performances—both conveying the complex evolution of their characters as the storyline progresses. With a major lift from cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi, Hostiles succeeds as a dour yet deeply compelling evocation of historical injustices on the frontier of the American West.

 

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