Having scripted Sicario and Hell and High Water, Taylor Sheridan has taken on directorial duties as well with his new film Wind River and scored a solid hit. Jeremy Renner plays a man who works for the government fish and game department on an Indian reservation in Wyoming. He’s an expert marksman, but more important, he understands the territory he patrols and the people who live there, because he is one of them.
Into this wintry and insular community comes an FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) who is tasked with investigating the rape and murder of a teenage girl who was left for dead in the snow. She is a fish out of water and must lean on Renner to help her make headway in talking to the locals and gathering evidence. The job is all the more difficult for Renner because he knew the victim and is friendly with her parents (Gil Birmingham and Tantoo Cardinal). What’s more, he and his ex-wife, a Native American, suffered a similar loss several years ago.
Renner has never been better. Olsen holds her own in what could have been a one-dimensional role. And Graham Greene is a welcome presence as the local sheriff with a permanently wry expression on his face.
As he did in Hell and High Water, Sheridan manages to weave elements of social commentary into a gripping crime story without being heavy-handed. The environment is a crucial and organic part of the narrative.
Tense, violent, well-staged, and suspenseful, Wind River is that rare bird nowadays: a good story well told.