First Hit: Extremely well-acted character driven crime film in a stark cold setting.
Jeremy Renner is a fine actor and his turn in “The Hurt Locker” was amazing. In “Wind River” he gets an opportunity to shine once again. Here he plays Cory Lambert an agent with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Wyoming. He spends most his time alone in the wild hunting down animals that are killing local rancher’s animals. He's divorced, a father and haunted by loss.
He was married to Wilma (Julia Jones) a Native American. They had two children together, however the oldest, a daughter, was suspiciously killed one night while the couple were out together for much needed alone time. Their young son lives primarily with Wilma and she’s looking to move away for a new job.
While tracking mountain lions in the high country, he runs across a Natalie (Kelsey Asbille) who is frozen, dead and barefoot. He can tell she'd been running away from something horrible because of the tracks in the snow, wounds on her body and that the freezing cold air coagulated the blood in her lungs causing them to burst. Cory suspects she was also sexually assaulted because of the location of blood stains on her clothing. He contacts Sheriff Ben (Graham Green) who calls the FBI because they suspect it is a homicide and on government Native American land.
The FBI sends Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) to determine what happened and if a homicide, resolve the murder. Between Ben, Jane and Cory they figure out how Natalie was killed and who was responsible for her death.
The scenes and scenery were dramatically staged showing the wild, cold, wilderness of remote Wyoming. Camera shots were powerful and added to the suspense of the story. The scenes of Cory with Martin (Gil Birmingham), Natalie’s father are deeply moving as they share the experience of losing a daughter and having to deal with their respective losses.
Renner is amazing. He’s perfect for the role by being rugged, smart and sensitive. Jones is perfect as Cory’s divorced Native American wife who's looking to move on. She impeccably carries the sadness of losing her daughter and the status of her and Cory's relationship. Asbille is wonderful in her small, primary, yet pivotal role. Olsen is flawless as the FBI agent naïve in the ways of Wyoming reservation ways, but focused on getting the job done. Birmingham is priceless. I loved his reserved suffering ways and willingness to take another step. Greene is excellent as the Sheriff who bridges the gap between the native American and white man’s worlds. Taylor Sheridan wrote and directed this film. In both cases, he hit a home run. Some of the shots in the wild made me feel as if I was a voyeur and greatly added to the experience.
Overall: This is a top-notch film because the story, acting and direction is sublime.