Hostiles Review
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Every day, it seems that headlines are filled with stories about people of different backgrounds and different beliefs facing off in hurtful or even violent ways. But that’s really nothing new. And in the tense Western Hostiles, two groups of long-time rivals are forced to journey across the frontier together.

Hostiles stars Christian Bale as Captain Joe Blocker, a military legend who’s known for his ruthlessness in battle against Native Americans. In 1892, he’s preparing for his retirement when he’s given one final task. The President has granted ailing Cheyenne Chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) and his family permission to return to their home in Montana, and Joe is assigned to escort them. Though he’s watched Yellow Hawk brutally murder some of his friends, Joe must protect him and his family as they face attacks from ferocious Comanches and other threats along the way.

This journey across the American frontier is harsh but often beautiful, exploring the prairies and plains and mountain ranges of the west. While the settings may sometimes be striking, though, they’re also dangerous. It seems that the party faces new hazards with each new day—whether it’s from the bloodthirsty Comanches, hunting parties, or malicious land owners. But, of course, the main conflict is within the group, as Joe and his men accompany Yellow Hawk and his family, both groups knowing that the others have murdered their friends and family in cold blood.

The tension here is palpable. Joe is stone-faced and suspicious. He doesn’t trust the people in his care, nor does he want anything to do with them—but his hard-earned pension is at stake. Their attitude, meanwhile, is different from the start. They’re quiet and respectful, offering their help with the dangerous journey—though it takes a while for Joe to realize that they’ll all be safer if they can fight together.

In the midst of all of the tension and hatred, though, the addition of Rosamund Pike’s Rosalie Quaid helps to break through the stony silence and testosterone of the typical Western. The grieving wife and mother is discovered at her burned-down home—the lone survivor of a Comanche attack—and despite her grief and brokenness, she shows strength as well as heart, which radiates out to others in the group. And while the male characters may guide most of the action, the female characters are the ones who guide the drama.

Hostiles isn’t a fast-paced, action-packed kind of movie. It’s long and deliberate—and it’s often slower than it needs to be. But the message here is clear—and it’s one that is just as meaningful now as it was on the frontier.

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