Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Lakeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, Danielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi, Deon Cole, Damon Wayans Jr., DeWanda Wise, Julio Cesar Cedillo
Written by: Jeymes Samuel, Boaz Yakin, based on a story by Jeymes Samuel
Directed by: Jeymes Samuel
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and language
Running Time: 139
Date: 11/03/2021

The Harder They Fall (2021)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Guns Go Bang

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

An exciting mess of a movie, lit as if shining the frontier sun through a prism, Jeymes Samuel's bold, kinetic all-Black Western The Harder They Fall is a must-see for anyone who can handle gore in the name of art. The complex 139-minute tale has Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) seeking revenge against Rufus Buck (Idris Elba) for killing Nat's family when he was a child (and also carving a small cross in the boy's forehead). They each form gangs — Stagecoach Mary Fields (Zazie Beetz) and Bass Reeves (Delroy Lindo) join up with Nat, and Trudy Smith (Regina King) and Cherokee Bill (LaKeith Stanfield) are on Buck's side — and go to war, with bloody headshots aplenty. Samuel emerges full-force with a fluid, confident use of color, space, and rhythm, where sizing one another up is as important as the shooting, and it all becomes a rumination on violence itself. While the story is fictional, and practically unreal, the characters's names come straight out of the history books.

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