“You believe in the Lord, Joseph?” asks Rosalie (Rosamund Pike). “Yes, I do. But he’s been blind to what’s going on out here for a long time,” replies Captain Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale) as he tries to comfort a grieving widow on the wild plains in the gripping Western film, Hostiles.
Set in 1892, Hostiles focuses on war-weary Army Captain Joseph J. Blocker, a man who’s spent decades fighting Indians and who has no sympathy for Native Americans. Blocker’s furious when he’s ordered to escort the dying Cheyenne warrior Chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) and his family back to their tribal lands. Blocker attempts to fight the order but after his pension is threatened, he gives in and complies.
Leaving Fort Berringer in New Mexico, Blocker and his men must travel with the Chief, Blocker’s former enemy, on a perilous journey to Montana. Not long into the journey, Blocker and his group come across the young widow Rosalie Quaid still in shock over her family’s massacre at the hands of brutal Comanches. Leery of Chief Yellow Hawk and his family but trusting Blocker and his men, Rosalie joins the group.
The former enemies and the recently widowed Rosalie ultimately must join forces and fight together to overcome deadly Comanche attacks, run-ins with outlaws, and the brutal elements if they are to survive and complete their journey.
Powerful and extremely violent, Hostiles is one of the best Westerns to come along in years. The cast deliver award-worthy performances, and the R-rated film features visually stunning cinematography. Christian Bale gives perhaps the best performance of his career as Captain Blocker, a man who’s filled with hate tinged with regret. Bale displays perfectly just how much Blocker truly despises the Chief he’s escorting across the plains. He also conveys the good amount of self-loathing he has for the horrific things he did in the past while fighting the Native Americans for the U.S. government.
Rosamund Pike delivers a mesmerizing performance as the shattered yet determined widow whose family was brutally ripped from her by the Comanches. She shows wonderfully how even after losing all that’s dear to her and almost reaching the brink of sanity, Rosalie finds the will to continue on to try to make some sort of life for herself. Pike and Bale have solid chemistry on screen, and Pike’s performance is completely compelling.
Hostiles‘ cinematography is breathtaking, bringing back to life the Old West and capturing the bright blue skies and the natural beauty of the landscapes including the meandering rivers, lush forests, and seemingly impassable mountains. Not since John Ford’s film The Searchers has a Western movie looked this good and authentic.
With excellent performances, most notably by Bale and Pike, intriguing characters, strong direction by Scott Cooper, and beautiful cinematography, Hostiles is a terrific film and should be seen on the big screen to experience its full visual impact.
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, and language
Running Time: 134 minutes