A Satisfying Slow Burn Mystery
Set in the frozen tundra, Wind River is a slow burn mystery which builds slowly before its explosive, climactic ending. The film opens to a Native American woman running in the frozen wilderness before collapsing in a pool of her own blood. Its a haunting open and accompanied by an equally unsettling musical score, manages to keep the mystery going until the final third of the film where the finale is greeted by a barrage of gunfire and a satisfying conclusive end to the plot.
When reserved veteran tracker Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) teams up with enthusiastic FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen), the two form an unlikely alliance to try and track down exactly who murdered the girl. As the plot progresses, the slow paced, gritty style of the film takes on its own persona, showing the social and economic woes the Natives of the wasteland are faced with on a daily basis. The sweeping shots of the landscape, with pockets of green shrub and trees is a harsh reminder that this alien landscape is relentlessly brutal to all who aren’t prepared to face it. It certainly makes for an intriguing setting but it also highlights the one problem Wind River has. Its pace.
Its worth noting that Wind River is first and foremost a slow burn mystery. The characters are explored in great detail and although the finale does have a more action orientated finale to mix up the pace to great effect, it takes a good 90 minutes before it even reaches that point. Those looking for a more action-orientated mystery will be left disappointed but for those looking for a slowly unravelling mystery which manages to intrigue right up to its conclusion are sure to find a lot to like here.
Technically, the film is really nicely done. With a lot of the film dominated by the colour white, Director Taylor Sheridan smartly uses a good array of internal and external shots to break the film’s palette up. I mentioned it before but its worth noting here that the score is very good, dominated by haunting minor keys, elevating the tension and sense of dread. Coupled with the gorgeous, sweeping shots of the landscape, there’s no denying that technically Wind River is a very good film.
Overall, Wind River is a satisfying mystery that manages to tick all the boxes, even if it never innovates or breaks the boundaries which it comfortably embraces. The acting is solid all round too with the two lead characters managing to strike up an unlikely chemistry. Its not perfect and with such a slow pace, it may well put some people off from the film. Aesthetically, Wind River is outstanding and along with a shocking climax that sees the pace suddenly shoot into overdrive, Wind River is a decent mystery, even if it never quite innovates beyond the boundaries of the genre it inhabits.