Starting off with the death of a young Native American woman, "Wind River" sets the movie up as a gritty crime thriller. Saying "thriller" however can be a bit misleading in some way, because this movie isn't exactly like a thrill ride a minute. If anything else, this is really more like a modern western, with it's deliberately careful pacing, a procedural quest to find those responsible for the crime, located in the vast isolated fringe setting of an Indian Reservation in Wyoming, starring a lead character who has to help solve the case while still overcoming a personal tragedy. Cold snow instead of dry dirt, and a hunter instead of a cowboy. Yeah, it's pretty much a western.
Writer-Director Taylor Sheridan has a knack for giving us interesting premises with his films; coming off from "Hell Or High Water" and "Sicario." In this one, the team up of a composed seasoned Hunter, with a young but passionate FBI agent, to play the whodunit game is quite enjoyable to watch. Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen are excellent in this, and do a great job with their back and forth interactions, as the experienced local and the fish out of water outsider, respectively. It was easy to admire Renner's character as this epitome of a very capable man, but Olsen's character was also good to have as a direct contrast.
In between the procedural aspects, the actual action sequences, and some humor as well, are scenes filled with compelling introspection and lamentation. The different kinds of characters, the Wyoming setting, and the authority figures, all have something important to add to the movie's narrative, which only makes the story feel even more alive and interesting. With the plot turns and reveals, you're going to want to see this through the end. While it does have a fantastic script, with some great set pieces (like a particular stand-off), there are still some moments in the movie that didn't ring true to me and keeps "Wind River" from being just perfect. While not flawless, this movie is still very much a must-see.
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