On the vast plains of the 1800s from writer/director Scott Cooper and Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures comes a story of redemption between “Hostiles.”
Capt. Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale) has spent his military career fighting both wars and himself. Making it clear he has no compassion for Native Americans, he is shocked when the outpost Colonel instructs him by Presidential order to take Chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) and his family home to Montana after serving seven years in prison. Being defiant, Blocker tells his superior that he refuses the order but is forced to realize that a court martial is possible.
Along with a detail including Lt. Kidder (Jesse Plemons), Wilks (Bill Camp), Corp. Molinor (Stafford Douglas), and Corp. Woodsen (Jonathan Majors), they lead Chief Yellow Hawk and his family Black Hawk (Adam Beach), Elk Woman (O’orianka Kilcher), Little Bear (Xavier Horsechief) and Living Woman (Tanaya Beatty) across the plains to Montana.
Preparing to stop for the night they come across a burned out home and while investigating discover Rosalie Quaid (Rosamund Pike) who is in shock over the death of her family. Capt. Blocker and the men are immediately struck to the bone by what they
see and what she has been through knowing they must accompany her fragile self to the next town.
Chief Yellow Hawk knows that the men who caused the chaos are not far away and tries to get the Captain to understand that they want to help but the mistrust is intense. Continuing on their way, the group is attacked by renegade Comanche’s who don’t care who is in the group. Trying to reach Montana safely the group is now unsure of how they will survive the attacks from all sides.
In the next town, Capt. Blocker asks that the post Lieutenant to see that Mrs. Quaid is taken care of but that’s not what she wants. Feeling safer with Blocker, she makes it clear that the journey to Montana is something she needs to see to the end. The Lieutenant asks Blocker to escort a prisoner to the next town stop to be turned over for trail after
He agrees but is equally surprised at who the prisoner turns out to be.
Getting closer their destination, the two sides begin to see the pain and sadness each has experienced and in one moment Capt. Blocker sees his world shift in the most unexpected way.
That’s what happens when you walk a mile in real life.
Bale as Captain Blocker is an angry man who lived his military life surrounded by heinous acts. When those acts begin to reflect back onto his life, watching Bale slowly take in every bit of it is something to experience. There is not a lot of dialogue for his character but instead being continually riveted by the duality of how he handles each step towards Montana.
Studi as Chief Yellow Hawk is the calm in the middle of a storm. I adore when Studio shines on the screen in this way and having spent more than his fair share of time portraying Native Americans, this portrayal is stunningly beautiful. He also has little dialogue but when he does speak it is from the heart of a wounded people. There is something to be said for quiet strength but don’t get me wrong; Chief Yellow Hawk still has fight left in him.
Pike as Rosalie is a pioneer woman who has ever reason to be broken, fearful and angry. Finding a sense of security with Capt. Blocker, she also begins to understand the people considered the enemy because of a honorable gesture. Pike grows with each mile they put behind them and doesn’t hesitate to pick up a weapon and make her feelings known.
Beach as Black Hawk follows the wisdom and ways of his father Chief Yellow Hawk wanting to do what’s best for his family. It is good to see Beach once again in a film that does him justice. Kilcher as Elk Woman takes in everything going on around her making
sure to protect her son. Horsechief as Little Bear is thoughtful, smart, and embraces everyone with a gentle smile and my heart just melted ever scene he was in.
Plemmons as Lt. Kidder turns in a performance that keeps me believing that he is such an under utilized actor. Here his character experiences events that jolt him but it doesn’t change the part of him that is wants to do what’s right. Camp as Wilks is at the end of his career and throwing unexpected events toward Captain Blocker. Camp’s performance is stoic and heartbreaking at the same time.
Other cast also include Rory Cochrane as Master Sgt. Metz (Rory Cochrane), Timothee Chalamet as Pvt. DeJardin, John Hickey as Capt. Tolan, Robyn Malcolm as Minnie McCowan, Peter Mullan as Lt. McCowan, Stephen Lang as Col. Biggs Paul Anderson as Corp. Thomas, David Midthunder as Buffalo Man, Ryan Bingham as Sgt. Malloy and Ben Foster as Sgt. Wills.
“Hostiles” will give audiences a experience with a story that I believe offers up the question of ‘who really are the hostiles?’ The cinematography is stunning with a wide open view of the elements giving the characters space to truly bring the story and the wide spectrum of human emotions.
Bale carries the load of a man fighting between the hostile man he’s become towards Native Americans and now being confronted with that hostility. Studi’s character of Chief Yellow Hawk sees the pain Capt. Blocker is in and understands it more than the military
man realizes. These are two men who have seen and done things towards one another and it is fitting that they must stand face to face, accept and forgive.
“Hostiles” has already received attention from the Central Ohio Film Critics Association with a nomination for Breakthrough Film Artist Timothee Chalamet and has won the Capri Photoplay Award for Masanobu Takayanagi by Capri, Hollywood.
In the end — we are all hostiles.