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Hostiles Review: Thoughtful Western showcases strong characters
Townhall.com ^ | February 3, 2018 | John Hanlon

Posted on 02/03/2018 7:06:44 AM PST by Kaslin

The new Western Hostiles begins with an unshakably violent event. A small family is attacked and brutalized by a group of Native Americans. There’s no justification for the violence. Only bloodshed.

There’s no moral ambiguity in that sequence but as the film tells a larger story, moral ambivalence takes center stage as the story explores the omnipresence of violence in the Old West.

Set in 1896, the feature stars Oscar winner Christian Bale as Captain Joseph J. Blocker. Blocker is a weary warrior who has seen his share of violence and engaged in his share of battles. He’s seen friends die at the hands of Native Americans and believes he knows exactly what the enemy looks like. His latest assignment from the federal government puts him in a difficult position.

He’s tasked with escorting Chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi), a Native American warrior, and his family back home. The chief is dying and the President of the United States wants him to return back to Montana to die in peace. As the journey begins, Blocker finds no comfort or peace in his mission (the man he’s tasked with protecting looks like so many of the men he’s killed) but as their path from New Mexico continues, the American Captain begins to find understanding with the Native American chief.

Written by Scott Cooper and adapted from the manuscript by Donald E. Stewart, the plot places the two men close to one another as they face the dangerous world around them.

Bale, who was a perfect choice for the lead role, brings an emotional restraint to his character that subtly hints at his background. Blocker doesn’t speak often about his past and the brutality he’s faced or utilized but the audience can see his weariness and pain from his facial expressions and by the way he never flinches from violence.

The deep themes are explored richly with a supporting cast that emphasizes different perspectives. The physically-exhausted Yellow Hawk has seen many battles as well and shares many similarities with Blocker but doesn’t need to say them aloud. He also knows the weaknesses of Blocker’s bigotry and tells Blocker about the disparity between the different Native American tribes. He knows which tribes are simply fighting in defense and which ones need no justification for bloodshed.

There’s also a Master Sergeant (Rory Cohrane), who has grown accustomed to a lifestyle of fighting and even says he’s gotten used to murder. He tells a young lieutenant (Jesse Plemons) about how natural violence has become for him and the lieutenant says that he fears the idea of feeling the same way.

In two hours and fourteen minutes, Cooper — who also directed the feature — has time to reveal all of these different personalities. Each of them add to the murkiness of the debate of right versus wrong. The first scene is an obvious display of brutality but by the feature’s closing moments, Cooper has revealed layer upon layer of grey, showing both audiences and the characters how complicated the Old West truly could be.

Unlike other Westerns, this feature never shies away from the emotional pain that people suffered under such brutal conditions. Actress Rosamund Pike does incredible understated work as a widow who watches her family get slaughtered in front of her. Her heartbreak is not only obvious during the shooting but it’s also showcased in a painfully realistic sequence showing her digging graves for her loved ones.

There are a few characters (members of Little Hawk’s family come to mind) who aren’t given the opportunity to grow here unfortunately. The film is so great at revealing differing personalities and the moral ambiguities of the Old West so it’s disappointing that not all of the characters are given similar opportunities.

As a character study of a few main characters though, Hostiles is remarkably thoughtful and morally provocative.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: entertainment; indians; moviereview; movies; westerns
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It might be interesting to find out if this Western is as good as the old ones.
1 posted on 02/03/2018 7:06:44 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

I thought it was just okay. “3:10 to Yuma” was much better and, if I had to choose between Netflix’s “Godless” and “Hostiles” it would be no decision at all in favor of the Jeff Daniels mini-series.


2 posted on 02/03/2018 7:10:08 AM PST by jyo19
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To: Kaslin
Set in 1896

Perhaps I am too quick to pass judgment, but that seems awfully late for such activity. The frontier was closed, Wounded Knee had already happened.

I'm guessing this is less like "noble Native Americans fighting to preserve their homeland" and a bit more like "violent gang of psychopaths strikes back at people in their territory". Kind of like MS-13.

3 posted on 02/03/2018 7:13:05 AM PST by ClearCase_guy (The revolution will not be televised (at least, not by CNN).)
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I'm boycotting all Christian Bale movies


Christian Bale Laments Trump Era's "Absolute, Disgusting Nature of Political Whims"

4 posted on 02/03/2018 7:16:22 AM PST by KavMan
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To: Kaslin

I thoroughly recommend this movie!!!!....

It reminds me of vintage John Wayne....( The Searchers)

I want to see it again!


5 posted on 02/03/2018 7:25:06 AM PST by Guenevere (The wrath of God has come upon them at last.....)
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To: ClearCase_guy

It was actually 1892....but to your point it IS late...
The military had captured most tribes and sent them to reservations.
This particular Chief had already been imprisoned 7 years, along with his family

The marauding Indians at the beginning of the movie are a band of Comanche.....
I’m guessing the little pioneer family felt safe at some level....however they had a plan for such an event.

I recommend it.


6 posted on 02/03/2018 7:30:04 AM PST by Guenevere (The wrath of God has come upon them at last.....)
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To: Guenevere

I have seen the preview of it on Fox News, plus also last Monday in the movie theater when my son and I went to see 12 Strong.


7 posted on 02/03/2018 7:32:02 AM PST by Kaslin (Politicians are not born; they are excreted -Civilibus nati sunt; sunt excernitur. (Cicero)
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To: Kaslin
I’m probably going to see it today. I do love a good western. One concern is the timeframe the movie is set in. . . 1896 was 20 years after Little Big Horn and I thought by then, most of the Indian hostiles were either dead or on reservations.

Another is Yellow Hawk is a Comanche who is being returned to his ancestral home in Montana? I thought Montana was Crow and Blackfoot territory with the Comanches in Texas . . .

8 posted on 02/03/2018 7:34:45 AM PST by atc23 (The Confederacy was the single greatest conservative resistance to federal authority ever)
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To: KavMan
I don't recall ever seeing a movie with Christian Bale.

Many many years ago I boycotted movies in were the great actor Peter Ustinov played because of his role as Nero in Quo Vadis, until I realized what a great actor he was.

9 posted on 02/03/2018 7:38:13 AM PST by Kaslin (Politicians are not born; they are excreted -Civilibus nati sunt; sunt excernitur. (Cicero)
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To: Kaslin

I’ve heard that this is a well made movie, but I’m not going to see it. I am tired of Hollywood’s constant pushing of “the moral ambiguities”.


10 posted on 02/03/2018 7:39:29 AM PST by vladimir998 (Apparently I'm still living in your head rent free. At least now it isn't empty.)
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To: KavMan

Ordinarily I would say your point is well taken...
...but I went to your link....
...and except for generalities regarding the state of politics, I didn’t actually see a quote from him about Trump

I did see the tabloid’s interpretation of what he said.

The director knew this movie would appeal to flyover country, and regardless of his political views I don’t think he or the actors would be fool enough to poison the well

Having said that, one of the actors in 12 Strong did have a Trump quote that’s ‘ out there’


11 posted on 02/03/2018 7:40:16 AM PST by Guenevere (The wrath of God has come upon them at last.....)
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To: Kaslin

Hostiles is an excellent movie. Christian Bale’s acting is outstanding. The story is about enduring unbelievable challenges and making it through.
I highly reccommend it - some butality though.


12 posted on 02/03/2018 7:42:24 AM PST by GreatRoad
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To: vladimir998

It’s less moral ambiguity, imo, and I think I’m seasoned and discerning...

...and instead it’s more about levels of pain, regret, weariness, and forgiveness

The actors portray this well!


13 posted on 02/03/2018 7:43:35 AM PST by Guenevere (The wrath of God has come upon them at last.....)
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To: Kaslin

One possible interpretation of this is that diversity wasn’t a strength back then either.

Unwanted diversity is discord wherever it’s tried.


14 posted on 02/03/2018 7:44:40 AM PST by aquila48
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To: atc23

Yellow Hawk is Cheyenne


15 posted on 02/03/2018 7:44:48 AM PST by Guenevere (The wrath of God has come upon them at last.....)
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To: ClearCase_guy
"Perhaps I am too quick to pass judgment, but that seems awfully late for such activity."

Way too late.

16 posted on 02/03/2018 7:51:18 AM PST by Flag_This (Liberals are locusts.)
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To: atc23

“I’m probably going to see it today. I do love a good western.” I stopped going to movies years ago but I do love a good western. I order the DVD’s from Walmart or Hamiltons Bargain books https://www.hamiltonbook.com/ . Westerns like “Open Range” or “The Big Country” with Gregory Peck and Charlton Heston. Lately I have been watching them on Youtube because they are free and many of them are not available on DVD. Just watched “The Bravados” with G. Peck and Lee van Cleef , never saw it before but what a great movie. Also another lost classic “Day of the Badman” with Fred MacMurry reminded me of High Noon with one man against the bad guys while the whole town hides. Great stuff out there.


17 posted on 02/03/2018 8:18:56 AM PST by ABN 505 (Right is right if nobody is right, and wrong is wrong if everybody is wrong. ~Archbishop Fulton John)
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To: Kaslin

Don’t waste your money.

As a YUGE Christian Bale fan, I was disappointed in this movie. Not by his performance, as it was the ONE bright spot in the movie.

Rosamund Pike, who I also like alot, was okay, but her character/the script didn’t give her much to work with.

The chief, (Magua, in The Last of the Mohicans) played a very good supporting role.

Ben Foster, another GREAT actor had a small unimpactful role.

This movie has two YUGE flaws.
1. The “characters” are not developed at ALL. You can’t love or hate them if you don’t “know” them.

2. The BIGGEST flaw (a pet peeve of mine) is that it’s not believable. No matter the premise, (even when preposterous), the supporting facts have to be believable!

The opening scene of the movie DESTROYED any hope I had of it being believable/realistic.

The husband leaves the cover of his house and singlehandedly, in thge open, charges a band of “hostiles”. Ridiculous. Oh, and by the way, he’s DEAD.

He has his frontier womenfolk run for their lives like scared little girls, instead of ALL of them grabbing rifles to defend their home and lives from cover.

Rosamund Pike (the wife) can run faster than a “Hostile” chasing her on horseback! AMAZING! (ridiculous)

The scenery/photography was GREAT. The script SUCKED.

The movie was “OK”, but no more than that. The popcorn was great!


18 posted on 02/03/2018 8:22:49 AM PST by faucetman (Ju"st the facts, ma'am, Just the facts)
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To: Guenevere
Ordinarily I would say your point is well taken...

...but I went to your link....

...and except for generalities regarding the state of politics, I didn’t actually see a quote from him about Trump

I did see the tabloid’s interpretation of what he said.



I think this line here is enough for me to boycott his movies


“This tax bill, etcetera, this is not what America was built on. I adore this country, it’s my adopted home — I moved here, I left my own country because I love this country so much; my children speak with an American accent.

Hopefully we’ll come through this for something far better, but we’re going through real trial right now.”

19 posted on 02/03/2018 8:28:11 AM PST by KavMan
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To: faucetman

The scene in Dances With Wolves” where “Standing With A Fist’s” family is murdered by “hostiles” is “very believable”. Seemed “REAL” to me. Realistic.


20 posted on 02/03/2018 8:28:59 AM PST by faucetman (Ju"st the facts, ma'am, Just the facts)
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