Fort Berringer, New Mexico Territory 1892. Captain Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale), a veteran of the far west Indian wars, is ordered, by President Benjamin Harrison, under threat of court-martial if he refuses, to accompany terminally ill Cheyenne Chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) and his family to their ancestral land in Montana. Blocker must see that the chief, who killed his men in battle, arrives safely, against terrible odds, in “Hostiles.”
Writer-director Scott Cooper (“Black Mass (2015) adapts the 1980s manuscript by Donald E. Stewart (who shared the Best adapted screenplay Oscar with Costa Gavras for “Missing (1982)”) in what is, essentially, a road movie, albeit, a journey of danger, death, survival and, in the end, finding peace.
Christian Bale, as Captain Joe, is on the mission much against his will and must accompany his hated enemy, through great danger, home. Along the way, they come upon Rosalie Quaid, holding tight to her daughters murdered by marauding Comanche. The near-mad woman joins Joe, Yellow Hawk, his son Black Hawk (Adam Beach) and the rest of the small party on their trek, all the while eluding the murderous Comanche.
The story pits the stalwart travelers against the harsh conditions laid down by Mother Nature and ruthless men who want to kill them all. The band meets those obstacles, at first reluctantly but in the end united, to complete their journey of what will be, for all, redemption.
This is a true ensemble film where all the major players are equals on the screen. Director Cooper gets solid performances from all and the production, in general, fits the mood, tone and period of the story well. I give it a B.
Cooper's Western may be an amalgamation of others that have come before, but he's crafted a fine film, elevated by fine performances
from Bale and Pike and a superb supporting cast, many, most notably Rory Cochrane, making bold strokes with scant screen time. B
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