Hostiles is a 2018 Western film based on a true story that was written and directed by Scott Cooper. It pivots on an Army Captain in Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale) who is forced to escort a dying Cheyenne war chief and his family back to their tribal land. Their journey, however, is not a smooth one as they have to maneuver through a punishing landscape that’s crawling with hostile Comanche and vicious outliers.
The movie begins on an incredibly high note. There is a heart-wrenching scene to set the tone for the movie. This is where we are introduced to Rosamund Pike’s character; she is a homeschool teacher cum parent to her two kids and she executes that latter scene as well as every other scene to perfection. Christian Bale is the epitome of expert acting and his character Joseph is nothing short of spectacular; you could see how much years of being a General, fighting crime in a hostile environment has taken a toll on him more so emotionally. He has a grudge with The Indian chief for atrocities he committed against him in the past and the fact that he has to be of service to him as a result of an executive order doesn’t sit well with the Captain.
There are so many things that could go wrong in a film of this caliber given that it is set in the Wild West era but this particular one nails it. The cinematography used here is something that really captivated me to stay keen on the happenings of the movie. The period clothing is just about accurate, there’s anarchy and chaotic violence; everything you’d expect to be present in a 17th Century American setting. Scott Cooper, the director of this film, did his job relatively well; he made the most out of telling the story of the vicious Comanche War Party, their activities and how the authorities of the day handled them. Any movie that is devoid of special effects always calls for the characters in it to be the ones to carry it to success and the ‘Hostiles’ cast doesn’t disappoint in the very least. With the exception of Christian Bale whom Cooper has worked with before in 2013’s Out of the Furnace and Rosamund Pike, the cast is not star-studded; but it doesn’t show.
My only issue with this movie leans more along the lines of my latter point. Bale and Pike are just sublime; you wouldn’t expect anything less of them; the others are good but could have been much better. Wes Studi’s character alongside his family don’t have much to do in this film and I strongly feel that the director could have done more to flesh them out particularly Chief Yellow Hawk given that Bale’s character has a bone to pick with him. There are a few emotional moments featuring the Chief as you would anticipate since he is living on borrowed time but all the same, it wasn’t enough for me to leave the theatre thinking that Wes Studi was fantastic in this film.
Overall, Hostiles is a motion-picture that is worth 2 hours and a few minutes of your time, it is the best Wild West film I have seen in recent times and I was invested in the happenings as well as the amazing performances.