REVIEW: ‘Hostiles’ breathes life back into Western genre



Maria McGinnis

Christian Bale is a man of many talents. Some of his most notable works, including “Newsies,” “American Psycho” and the “Batman” trilogy, have defined him as a dynamic actor. His newest film, “Hostiles,” may be one of his best yet.

Placed in the 1800s, the movie follows Army Capt. Joseph Blocker (Bale) as he escorts Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi), a dying Cheyenne Indian chief and his family to their native land.

During this time period Native Americans are despised and considered to be “savages.” They are ripped from their homes and forced to live in prisons, a practice that divides the nation, causing many whites and natives to live in fear.

Director Scott Cooper holds nothing back in this film. The gruesome details, raw emotion and history that our teachers never told us about pull at the audience’s heart strings in every scene.

Not only is the country divided between the whites and the natives, but there is division within those ethnic groups as well. The intense racism and hatred that carries the plot is incredibly eerie considering the world’s climate today.

Bale’s character undergoes the most dramatic changes throughout the course of the movie. Initially, he hates the natives for what they have done in the past. Toward the end, he is fighting alongside them, and defending them against racist bigots that claim to own the land.

The dynamics within Bale’s character, with the sheer brutality and raw content of the movie, makes it incredibly poignant. It leaves the audience gasping at the intolerance of their ancestors while also realizing that the world today is still plagued with that same brutal intolerance.

It is hard to watch, as it should be. It revives the genuine Western genre that has been silent for quite some time while sprinkling in modern elements that make this movie relevant, not just entertaining.

From the heart-wrenching loss and injustice to the eventual camaraderie, “Hostiles” is an emotional roller coaster. It hangs a looming cloud over the audience’s heads as the theatre is cleared. And for good reason, too.

Maria McGinnis is an entertainment reviewer. Please contact her at [email protected].