One of the toughest movie genres to make a great movie in happens to be westerns. Westerns generally carry every type of traditional movie troupe you could have, set to a backdrop of guns and revenge. Some westerns have been able to thrive with this type of formula, but most tend to disappoint more often than not. “The Harder They Fall” takes the idea of the western and gives us one of the most beautifully chaotic films in recent memory. Spurred on by an excellent cast, stunning cinematography, and an incredible story, “The Harder They Fall” successfully pays homage to the great westerns of old, while blazing its own path forward.
Directed by Jeymes Samuel, ‘The Harder They Fall’ tells the story of a young outlaw Nat Love, who turns to a life of crime after seeing his parents murdered as a child. Love and his gang have built a reputation on robbing other outlaws in their quest for revenge against the man that Murdered Love’s parents, an equally notorious outlaw by the name of Rufus Buck.
The cast itself is a who’s who of Black Hollywood. It combines the established star power of actors Regina King, Idris Elba, and Delroy Lindo with the new guard of Jonathan Majors, Zazie Beetz, and Lakeith Stanfield. The chemistry between the actors is present throughout the film as the dialogue between them is potent and almost never falls flat. Regina Kina plays Trudy Miller, Rufus Buck’s (Idris Elba) right-hand man masterfully. There’s an intensity that just leaps through the screen and grabs your attention anytime she’s present, and it’s perfectly matched by the overwhelming charisma on display from Jonathan Majors. Lakeith Stanfill plays Cherokee Bill, Buck’s sharpshooter who is philosophical, cerebral, and sociopathic.
Nat Love and Rufus Buck’s gangs are nearly mirror images of each other. One is fighting for power and control, while the other fixates on reputation and revenge. Stylistically, this film reminds me of a mix between some of Quentin Tarantino’s early films. Tonally, it’s an entirely different project. While you can tell the film is inspired by classic Blaxploitation movies and old spaghetti westerns, it also does well with standing out as its own project. The scenes manage to seamlessly transition between each other, flawlessly weaving together a quality story anchored by eye-popping cinematography and gorgeous set design.
Leading into the final conflict of ‘The Harder They Fall’ are some of the movie’s most intense scenes. A tense standoff between rival crews, bank robberies, and a dangerous rescue plot all set the stage for the film’s climax. Although this is very much a modern-day project, it serves as the perfect throwback to westerns of old. There’s a showdown between the two fastest guns, a horseback shootout, and yes even a good old-fashioned brawl where someone gets thrown through a window.
‘The Harder They Fall’ does a lot of things really well. Usually, when that happens, the film just fails to stick the landing. Thankfully this project wraps up with a massive reveal and leaves the door open for a potential sequel at the end. Between the great acting, the solid story, and an incredible soundtrack, this is definitely one movie you don’t want to sleep on.
“The Harder They Fall” is available to stream on Netflix.