STARRING: IDRIS ELBA, ZAZIE BEETZ, REGINA KING, JONATHAN MAJORS
DIRECTOR: JEYMES SAMUEL
DATE: NOVEMBER 3, 2021
The Harder They Fall is an American Western film directed by Jeymes Samuel, who co-wrote the screenplay with Boaz Yakin. There are a lot of critically acclaimed American Western films such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid directed by George Roy Hill and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly directed by Sergio Leone. However, all of them had a predominantly Caucasian cast. The Harder They Fall is the first of its kind to have a largely African American ensemble playing major roles in an American Western movie. While the events of this movie are fictional, the characters are based on real-life people of the old West.
The movie begins with a young boy witnessing the gruesome murder of his parents by a merciless gang leader, Rufus Buck (Idris Elba). Buck decides to spare the boy, but he etches a cross on his forehead. The young boy grows up to be Nat Love (Jonathan Majors), an outlaw with his gang of bandits. Although Buck is in jail, Love has dedicated his life to tracking down and killing Buck and his gang members. Stagecoach Mary Fields, Love’s lover (Zazie Beetz), reminds him that he can’t have a life until ‘the Devil’ ( a name they use to refer to Buck) is dead.
Nat Love’s character is a man out for revenge. He believes himself to be a man of principle. Instead of robbing banks directly, he steals from bandits who rob banks. He adores Fields and even carries a wedding ring in hopes that he will propose to her one day. However, their relationship is unstable because he is constantly seeking vengeance whenever the opportunity arises. He also values his gang members and thinks of them as brothers as he tries to go after Buck on his own, but they insist on going with him. Love and his comrades make a great team, and only time will tell if they stand a chance against Buck and his gang led by ‘Treacherous’ Trudy Smith ( Regina King) and Cherokee Bill (LaKeith Stanfield).
The film was visually appealing and it featured memorable characters played by seasoned actors who took viewers on an adventurous journey. The action scenes included quickdraws, large-scale gunfights, horse stunts, and chases that were all choreographed wonderfully with purpose and intent. It was also evident that the filmmakers aimed to incorporate music into the movie to emphasize notable events to make them more captivating. The soundtrack drew inspiration from Reggae, traditional Spirituals, and Afrobeat connecting the film to black roots. It is a breath of fresh air to see a predominately black cast star in an American Western movie directed by a black man which is something that we need to see more often in Hollywood.