“When an outlaw discovers his enemy is being released from prison, he reunites his gang to seek revenge in this Western.”

Director: Jeymes Samuel
Writers: Jeymes Samuel, Boaz Yakin
Staring: Jonathan Majors, Zazie Beetz, RJ Cyler, Edi Gathegi, Idris Elba, Regina King,
Streaming: Netflix
Release Date: November 3, 2021

There is not much to dive too deep into with The Harder They Fall (2021). This movie was made to be a swaggertastic fun romper and it hits the bullseye on with nearly every shot it takes. The script allows for the actors to be playful and the action is stylized in a uniquely violent way for modern western movies.

The Harder They Fall begins with a young boy being scarred both physically and mentally as his parents are gunned down by a faceless bandit. It sets up a tale for revenge and we flash forward to the future where the now grown child has turned into the western version of Robin Hood. Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) steals from the robbers, most of whom are employed by Rufus Buck (Idris Elba), the man who killed his family. Love his his gang, and Buck has his. The two bands get stretched to their limits and eventually tensions snap and violence is the only answer.

There are two absolutely magnetic forces in The Harder The Fall: Regina King as the “Treacherous” Trudy Smith and Zazie Beetz as Mary Fields.

These two women deserve more screen time. Regina King acting like a badass as the right hand gun and henchmen of Buck is so fun to watch. When she stands on her haunches to stop the train, it sets the tone for her disseminating the pain throughout the movie. She has the measure of every situation.

Now this is when I proclaim my love for Zazie Beetz. She is so god damn attractive it hurts. She is terrifying, in the best way possible. She doesn’t take shit, and Majors is in Major trouble if he really does want to lock her down. Her character is awesome. Speaking strictly from a personal perspective, I wish she did not appear as the damsel in distress in the final act of the movie. Beetz and the character Mary Fields are too badass for that too happen.

Now in all fairness, while these two characters are wonderful on their own, there is one gripe I have that involves them both. Their final battle; their head-to-head confrontation, is not a strong sequence. Compared to final showdowns involving Jim Beckwourth (RJ Cyler), Bill PIckett (Edi Gathegi), and Cherokee Bill (Lakeith Stanfield), their final fist-a-cuffs lacked the same style and swagger.

There is an old twist at the end of the movie which genuinely shocked me. Part of the reason the reveal works so well is because it is delivered by the calm, cool, collective Idris Elba. Now growing old with wonderful salt & pepper facial hair, Elba knows how to draw out a speech, wring it out for all its drama, and then rat tail you with an explosion of emotion. Also, can’t pass up talking about Elba and his character Rufus Buck without saying how surprised I was at how ruthless the character was in his morals. Man, that sentence was a ride. But watching the scene in Redwood, you can not tell me you were not surprised when killed the outspoken townsfolk. Ruthless.

The Harder They Fall is a movie that contains an immense amount of confidence and charisma. This movie is like the slow-mo walk into the prom where everyone’s eyes gawks at the ideal couple strutting in. It’s impossible not to admire and look. Massive props to first time motion picture director Jeymes Samuel for knocking a solid ground rule double on an 0-2 curveball.

STANKO RATING: B (3.5/5 Stars)

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