I want to start this review by saying that Michael Beach, for the black community, will always be that black man who left Bernie for that white woman on New Year’s Eve because “she didn’t want to be alone and shouldn’t have to be.” I say all that to say, I didn’t feel much when he died in the first five minutes of this film. No more spoilers after this.
The plot to The Harder They Fall is simple because….western. Man comes to kill a man’s entire family for some odd reason. In this case, he kills the entire family but leaves the boy with a Harry Potter inspired mark on his forehead. In this case, it’s a cross instead of a lightning bolt.
Although the plot is simple, the complexity comes with the juxtaposition between the relationships in the gangs. For example, Mary and Nat versus Trudy and Rufus. It’s a young love versus older love scenario. Obviously, there’s a deep love between Nat and Mary. An outward love people can see. Trudy and Rufus are different. You can tell there’s a deep love between the two but there’s a boundary there. I think they’re smart enough not to go too far because love can trap them in a situation they can’t get out of, the opposite of Mary and Nat. Cherokee Bill and Jim Beckworth are supposed to be the equivalent of each other but I think Cuffee is more Bill’s equal. We underestimate her strength greatly in this film. Reeves and Escoe, for me, were also two people who I think were supposed to give us two sides of how the law works. One, crooked and the other following along the more traditional lines of the law while still occasionally drawing outside those lines.
The blood spatter seemed a bit Tarantino inspired. I’ve never shot a man at point blank range, but I feel like the dramatics of the splatter are added movie theatrics and not how real blood splatter works. I did take a few years in forensics, so I know a little. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong.
You know what I love. When a director knows how to cleverly use a mixture of tight to wide shots that evoke some type of emotion, not doing it to just do it. I can’t just see the lust, we have to feel the lust. We can’t just see the tension, we have to be in it and the only way to do that in this remote situation, so to speak, is to vary the shots. The subtlety of it makes you lean in or jump. Clever man…
Here’s something I want to point out that was done several times in the first thirty or so minutes of this film. They get into this standoff, guns pointed, and someone says, “If you don’t put the gun down, this man dies” or something along those lines. In many of these cases, one or more of the people the person is talking to just met whi you’re talking about killing. Go head and kill him. Why would I put my gun down to protect a man I just met today? That I cannot understand but I digress.
You know two people I feel would have been a perfect addition to the cast? Paula Jai Parker and Brian Tyree Henry. Something about those two feel like a fit to me. Parker’s character somewhere adjacent to Rufus’ crew and Henry just plays a bad guy so well. He has a edge that I think could have rivaled Elba as Rufus. It also might be a cliché, but I was waiting to hear “Trouble Man” by Marvin Gaye. The action just lent itself to that song and I feel it was a missed opportunity to give me what I wanted.
Did I see the end coming? Honestly, not until he made his speech, but I’m glad they gave me a why because I was going to be real angry if no one gave me a why. Could this have been an hour and maybe 45 minute movie? Absolutely. Couple shootout scenes and fight scenes were too long, but again, western. I think Samuel did a great job as far as direction and the soundtrack wasn’t as distracting as I thought it would be. Sequel loading….
Sound off? What were your likes and dislikes? Do you think there will be a sequel? Do you even like westerns because I do not?