Hostiles is one of those movies that I really didn’t know a lot about going in. I just knew that I was going to have time for a movie yesterday and that one looked interesting enough. I knew that it had Christian Bale and I knew that it was a western, but I really had no idea of the premise of the movie. After watching it I would honestly say that I was blindsided by the type of movie that Hostiles really is. It is heavy, emotional, graphic, and kind of leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth at the end. I think that this movie was so much more impactful on me because I didn’t do any prior research on it. That being said, let’s get into the review.
All my assumptions that this was going to be a typical old-school western were shattered in the opening scene of the movie. The opening sequence was so sad and depressing that it kind of got the movie started out on the wrong foot in my mind. It not necessarily that I didn’t like the opening scene because it was a very powerful that does set the emotional tone of the movie. However, I don’t think I liked it as the pre-title scene. After the opening sequence, the focus shifts to Christian Bale’s character for the next 30 minutes or so before revisiting the events that it opened on. I think it would have flowed better if the movie started out with Joe’s (Christian Bale) intro and then used that seen later on.
Hostiles is a very somber, heavy and sad film. It is not meant to be a fun watch and really it isn’t fun at all. The tone of the movie is sad from pretty much start to finish and that can really weigh on the audience. A lot of people really don’t like this kind of movie and to those people, I would suggest you stay away because you will not likely have a great time with this one.
Talking again about the flow of the movie, there was a couple awkward cuts and scene transitions that made the movie feel just a little bit choppy to me. Just another little thing that brought the watchability of this film down a little bit.
I mentioned a lot about how dark and heavy Hostiles is and how it can be a little hard to watch because of it. However, this film knows it’s identity and holds very true to it. It reminds me very much of the 2016 movie Silence in the way that it relies more on visuals and unspoken emotions that it does dialogue. There really isn’t a lot of dialogue in this film, which is why I thought Christian Bale was an excellent casting choice. He has always been excellent at portraying the kind of stone-faced, emotionless man that doesn’t talk very much. He played similar roles in The Prestige, The Big Short, and even the Dark Knight Trilogy. He also has prior western experience from starring in the 2007 western 3:10 to Yuma alongside Russell Crowe. All of the acting in the movie was pretty solid, especially considering there were quite a few names that I didn’t recognize at all.
Hostiles really thrives off of its natural cinematography. The very first image you see is of a small farmhouse in a beautiful western valley and I immediately marveled at how beautiful it looked. From the opening scene to the final credits, every scene looked totally natural with little to no CGI whatsoever.
Overall, Hostiles is a really gripping movie that gets every single member of the audience emotionally attached to the plotline in some way. It sticks to the script as far as the identity of this movie goes. It is very dark and has a lot of death and tragedy but also relays a very nice message.