Hostiles Movie Review
In a lifetime, the average person may encounter a handful of films that truly affect them, make them ponder, and make them thankful for the life they have regardless of the trials they face on a daily basis. Hostiles is one of those films. Starring Christian Bale and Wes Studi, the film accurately displays the struggle between the white men and the Natives in every sense of the word. It delves into the mental attitude on both sides, the emotional aftermath of the actions of both sides, and the harrowing guilt that follows.
The film follows Captain Joseph Blocker who is tasked by President Harrison to escort Chief Yellow Hawk and his family to Montana. Chief Yellow Hawk and family have been prisoners for 7 years. With his body now riddled with cancer, he has petitioned for his release so that he may die in peace on his homeland. Captain Blocker is reluctant to take this job because he witnessed the Chief murder two of his personal military friends. His commanding officer, Colonel Abraham Biggs tells him "When the President tells you to do it, you do it." Despite his hatred for Yellow Hawk, Captain Blocker accepts the mission, forms his team, and heads out. The team must cross treacherous Comanche territory, land that even Yellow Hawk fears.
After experiencing this film, I found it difficult to put into words exactly how it made me feel. The psychological and philosophical elements that arose throughout the film were remarkable and made me really understand both sides of the story. Yes it's true that white men invaded the Natives homeland and did horrendous, unforgivable things to them. This set off a chain of events that caused many Natives to fight back and return those horrific acts to the white men. From there, it became a back and forth struggle that's never really been resolved even to this day. The government's placed Natives on reservations and, in some places, they even get a check twice a year. But in places like Wyoming, there are no royalties or rights given to Native Americans. In fact, many are still left to fend for themselves. The film Wind River depicted that in a heartbreaking way. What sets Hostiles aside from all other "cowboys & Indians" type films is that there is regret expressed by people from both sides. Rory Cochrane's character Master Sergeant Thomas Metz admits to Chief Yellow Hawk that what the white man has done to their people is unforgivable. He even tells fellow military teammate Lieutenant Rudy Kidder that when you kill people for a living you can get used to it but when you lose people you can never get used to it. Metz finds out quickly that he was wrong. You can't get used to killing, especially when you know they don't deserve to die.
The film wasn't heavy on brutality like The Revenant or such films like that but rather focused on the humanity and, at times, inhumanity of everyone involved. Probably the most effective character story in the film was Rosamund Pike's Rosalie Quaid. She witnessed her entire family be killed by the Comanche, very nearly meeting death herself. Captain Blocker comes across her on his journey and takes her under his wing so to speak, trying to help her rediscover stability after such extreme loss. Yellow Hawk's family showed her kindness and proved that the Natives could be kind and generous. Rosalie, even after witnessing the terror the Comanche brought down on her and on Blocker's team, showed Yellow Hawk's family the same kindness that they showed her. Overcoming loss takes great strength and courage and Rosamund Pike displayed that loss, grief, and courage on screen brilliantly. Bale's performance was one of the best he's ever given, in fact, the entire cast was impressive. It was apparent that they took this story very seriously and wanted to show respect to the dead and the unfairly persecuted through this film.
In conclusion, I felt this film was a hidden masterpiece that everyone needs to see. One can learn much from the characters, not only history but also endurance and acceptance as well as forgiveness. I give the film a 4 out of 4.
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© 2018 Alec Zander