The Harder They Fall

Western. Real life historical figures. Fictional story.

Netflix’s new Western dropped this weekend on the streaming service and it is fire. Filled with an astounding cast and a hot tale of revenge, The Harder They Fall is stylish, exciting and energetic.

Outlaw Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) learned that the man who had killed his parents and carved a cross on his forehead, Rufus Buck (Idris Elba), was being released from prison with a full pardon, and Nat Love set his sights on exacting his revenge on the infamous killer.

Jonathan Majors continues his remarkable streak recently with an amazing performance as our protagonist. From Lovecraft Country to He Who Remains, Majors is showing himself to be a fantastic actor and everything that he starts in is something to pay attention to.

The interactions between Nat Love and Rufus Buck in the movie are just powerful and full of emotion. The chemistry between Majors and Idris Elba is off the charts and drives much of the film. Both men are fully invested in the material and the final scene with them is really strong.

Zazie Beets as Stagecoach Mary Fields and Regina King as Treacherous Trudy Smith brought serious rivalry to the screen and their knock-down battle in the third act is totally earned over the course of the film. Both of these actresses are dominant in their presence on the screen and bring a special touch to their characters.

The rest of the cast is solid too. We had LaKeith Stansfield as Cherokee Bill, Delroy Lindo as Sheriff Bass Reeves, RJ Cyler as Jim Beckworth, Danielle Deadwyler as Cuffee, Edi Gathegi as Bill Pickett, and Damon Wayans, Jr as Monroe Grimes. It is a cast of who’s who among black actors today.

The soundtrack of the movie was tremendous and really brought a new energy to the straight-forward story. The blend of period music and rap is original and some of the best of the year.

There is a ton of violence in the film, perhaps too much. It certainly does not shy away from some of the more graphic moments of bloodshed or teeth loss. There was a grit that the film was shot with that really made it feel down in the dirt. A lot more of the violence worked than did not, but I could have done with a little less. Then, much of the third act felt too produced, in contradiction to the violence up to that point. It was all shiny and ordered.

It is also perhaps a little long. The film clocks in at 2 hours and 10 minutes and could have shaved off about 15 minutes or so. Still, the film does a good job living with the historical figures in the fictional location.

Stylish to a fault, The Harder They Fall is an excellent revenge Western and boasts some great performances. It looked top notch and sounded better than most movies. The story may have been simple and the violence graphic, but The Harder They Fall is an enjoyable watch.

3.9 stars

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