The Harder They Fall: Directed by Jeymes Samuel
SYNOPSIS: Gunning for revenge, outlaw Nat Love saddles up with his gang to take down enemy Rufus Buck, a ruthless crime boss who just got sprung from prison.
I absolutely love the western genre. Everything about the genre intrigues me and makes me want more and more. This film is different though. The cast, the story and the overall spectacle are so much bigger than the normal westerns of old. The thing I love so much is the representation. Jeymes Samuel always wanted to tell the stories of the black cowboys in America and he finally got his opportunity to show us these extraordinary people in a clear and cohesive story. The opening says: “while the story is fake, the people were real” and I love that they went down that route.
This is a kickass film from start to finish. The action is violent and unforgiving and never lets up from the prologue to the epic finale, the action is phenomenal. Samuel is a master of action direction and here it shows. Each sequence is unique in its own way while also harkening back to the westerns of old. Not only is the action well directed, but the direction in general is just astoundingly good. Jeymes Samuel brings a distinct image to the genre in a way that is fresh and unique while also taking inspiration from the classics. The film is absolutely beautiful with so many grand shots that you could hang on a wall.
The performances are as stellar as the cast is. Jonathan Majors, Regina King and Idris Elba are the standouts but the supporting cast also compliments the leads in all of the right ways. Big shoutout to RJ Cyler for my favorite performance of the entire film. In a film like this, the performances are as good as the script and this script does fantastic character development in a short runtime to make you truly care for these characters by the time you get to the fiery ending. This makes the stakes real and packs a punch. The writing is one of the strongest parts, besides the twist at the end, I was not the biggest fan of that.
I would be doing this film a disservice if I didn’t talk about the banging soundtrack. Lots of films try to do soundtracks with a bunch of big names collaborating to make a piece of music for a film and there aren’t many examples that have worked really well. But this soundtrack is fantastic. Not only are they big names, but they also take the time to not just make standard music. It is a twist on the music of classic westerns with the flair that you now know and love. Expertly done. I mean Jay-Z was a producer on this film so, it makes sense.
But the thing I love the most is the love letter that this film is to the classic western. Old school westerns are rarely tackled these days. But what Jeymes Samuel brings to the genre is both an ode to the classics while being a new breath of air into the classic western. We always get modern day westerns, Hell or High Water and No Country For Old Men, but to go back to the roots and do it so well, there is a lot of respect from me on that end.
FINAL: The Harder They Fall is a love letter to the classic western while also being its own thing. The performances, writing and direction are all so spectacularly done. The action packs a punch and the stakes feel as real as ever. As a lover of the western genre, I felt right and home while also being amazed at this new route of a western. One of the best movies that I have seen all year.
15 for Entertainment 15
15 for Performances 15
15 for Writing 14
10 for Direction 10
10 for Emotions 9
10 for Cinematography 10
5 for Sound 5
5 for Score 5
5 for Pacing 4
5 for Rewatchability 5
5 pts Automatic 5
The Harder They Fall: 97/100
Jack Lautaret is a film critic and the founder of the FinaticFilms YouTube Channel. He is a member of the Online Film and Television Association. Twitter: @JackLautaret