(US - 2017)
Written and directed by Scott Cooper. Cast: Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Wes Studi, Ben Foster, Jesse Plemons, Rory Cochrane, Adam Beach, Stephen Lang, Scott Wilson, Timothee Chalamet, Q'orianka Kilcher, Peter Mullan, Jonathan Majors, Bill Camp, Paul Anderson, Ryan Bingham, Tanaya Beatty, Xavier Horsechief, John Benjamin Hickey, David Midthunder, Robyn Malcolm, Boots Southerland, Scott Shepherd. (R, 135 mins)
Based on an unpublished novel written by veteran screenwriter Donald E. Stewart (JACKSON COUNTY JAIL, MISSING, THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER) way back in the 1980s (Stewart died in 1999, but still gets an executive producer credit here), HOSTILES is a western that works despite being torn between revisionism and genre standards. Written and directed by Scott Cooper (CRAZY HEART), HOSTILES reunites the filmmaker with his OUT OF THE FURNACE star Christian Bale, and while it has moments that aspire to the likes of pre-self-parody Terrence Malick and something like Clint Eastwood's UNFORGIVEN (even stealing the "killed everything that's walked or crawled" line) or Andrew Dominik's THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, it ultimately leans more toward the OPEN RANGE and the remake of 3:10 TO YUMA side of things. And there's nothing wrong with that because those were fine westerns, and while the languid pacing likely won't bother fans of revisionist westerns, the more commercial, mainstream moviegoers may get a little fidgety. HOSTILES was acquired by Byron Allen's upstart Entertainment Studios, and after the surprise summer hit 47 METERS DOWN and last fall's social media bomb FRIEND REQUEST, Allen clearly intended HOSTILES to be his ticket to the Oscars. It was given a limited rollout at Christmas 2017 and finally expanded nationwide a month later, but it was all for naught. It's a very good movie, probably Cooper's most accomplished yet (and a nice rebound from the disappointing BLACK MASS, the Whitey Bulger biopic starring a pair of ice blue contact lenses resting on the corneas of Johnny Depp), but it obviously didn't connect with the Academy, netting a grand total of zero nominations.