Idris Elba, Regina King and Jonathan Majors have flipped the Western genre completely on its head in a new Netflix movie, and to say we’re here for it is a total understatement.
Jeymes Samuel has rewritten the rules in a sensational directorial debut, which premiered at BFI London Film Festival 2021, putting a Black cast at the forefront of the action and shedding a light on diverse stories that had previously been overlooked.
The filmmaker has given us a stylish, ridiculously entertaining and blood-splattered take on the tale of Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) as he seeks revenge on the infamous Rufus Buck (Idris Elba), who killed both of his parents in front of him when he was a child, before taking a scalpel to his forehead and branding him with a cross. The execution unfolds in the very first scene and the action doesn’t let up from there, not even for a second, as Nat begins his journey to track down the killer as an adult.
He is joined on the way by his crew, made up of Stagecoach Mary (Zazie Beetz), Bill Pickett (Edi Gathegi), Jim Beckwourth (RJ Cyler), Marshall Bass Reeves (Delroy Lindo) and Cuffee (Danielle Deadwyler), while Rufus’ gang includes ‘Treacherous’ Trudy Smith (Regina King) and Cherokee Bill (Lakeith Stanfield). Although it is clear who is in charge of each crew, every single member is given their moment to shine.
The Harder They Fall has it all, violent gun battles mixed in with more than a few laughs, a story of emotional revenge and a banging soundtrack to boot – something that we shouldn’t be too surprised at seeing as Jay-Z is among the producers and musician Jeymes wrote the score himself.
Jonathan leads an all-star cast and he does it powerfully, putting his own twist on a Black cowboy, a character that is rarely seen in mainstream cinema. He steers his crew with style and substance, and clearly has fun with the role.
Idris delivers a scene-stealing performance as his nemesis and to be honest, we can’t help but root for the Rufus Buck gang just as much as the outlaw’s foes. Regina’s Trudy is every inch his counterpart, while Lakeith’s impressive gun-toting skills need to be seen to be believed.
There have been countless movies stemming from tales of the Old West, but very, very few have put Black characters at the forefront, despite there being thousands of Black cowboys across history. The topic of racism and the treatment of Black cowboys is subtly touched on throughout the movie – most notably in a scene where a ‘white bank’ in a literal white town is robbed – with the filmmaker ensuring that their history will not be erased.
While the flick is gripping and the action will have you glued to your screens, there are some aspects of the plot that could have been trimmed down, with the run-time coming in at just over two hours. The bond between Nat and Mary provided us with a romance arc, but felt underdeveloped in some moments.
There also could have been more attention given to the backstory of both gangs, and how the characters came to join their respective crews. There is an overload of chemistry between everyone in both camps that may have been explored further – but this also lends itself well to possible prequels in the future, and we will be among the first queuing up for more.
With The Harder They Fall, it’s clear that Jeymes has changed the rules on the Western genre in a refreshing way, and we can’t wait to see what he does next.
The Harder They Fall is released in cinemas on October 22, and will be available to stream on Netflix worldwide from November 3.
Credit: Original article published here.