At the beginning of its birth, the western genre was often used to describe the superiority of white people. They are invincible heroes, while POC (Person of Color), especially Indian tribes, is synonymous with savagery, backwardness, evil. Over time, the trend shifted, then the revisionist western was born. The Harder They Fall is one of the revisionists who are not half-hearted in tinkering with the conventional formula of the genre.
The entire main cast is black, which even revisionist westerns rarely do. As far as I know, only Buck and the Preacher (1972), Thomasine & Bushrod (1974), and Rosewood (1997) came close, and all three still featured white stars. Best Movie Site
Movie Review The story is fictional, but the characters in the script by Boaz Yakin (Now You See Me) and the director, Jeymes Samuel, are based on real-world figures. Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) is the protagonist. A bandit, who along with his two friends, Jim Beckwourth (RJ Cyler) and Bill Pickett (Edi Gathegi), specialize in robbing criminals. But Love has another goal, namely revenge.
He addresses this grudge to Rufus Buck (Idris Elba), a vicious bandit who 20 years ago killed Love’s parents, while also giving him a cross-shaped scar on his forehead. Upon learning that Buck has been released from custody, Love, assisted by his ex-girlfriend, Stagecoach Mary (Zazie Beetz), Cuffee (Danielle Deadwyler) who works in Mary’s saloon, and marshal Bass Reeves (Delroy Lindo), intend to complete the revenge act.
The most prominent thing in this film is clearly a matter of style. Black revisionist western is not entirely new to Samuel. In 2013 he made the short film They Die by Dawn. Coupled with the experience of working on Jay-Z’s Legacy video clip, as well as his status as a musician (Samuel is also the younger brother of legendary singer, Seal, who along with Jay-Z contributed to the soundtrack), The Harder They Fall brought western into the modern realm, both in terms of audio and visuals.
The songs are not commonly heard in western films, but stretch from hip hop to reggae. The visuals, especially as an action wrapper, are filled with dynamic camera setup, slow motion, and of course bloody violence. “Cool” was the word Samuel wanted to get out of the audience’s mouth when he saw the film, and he succeeded.
Likewise, the approach of the cast to their respective roles. When saying, gesturing, walking, even standing still, they act like “the coolest motherfuckers in the world”. Beetz, who has become more and more charming since stealing the show in Deadpool 2 (2018), Lakeith Sanfield as Cherokee Bill, the fast-paced shooter of Buck’s mysterious subordinates, to Regina King as Trudy Smith, Buck’s brutal and charismatic right-hand man.
But nothing can match the aura of Idris Elba. “The name Rufus Buck instills fear”, said Mary. We are made to believe that. Believes that Rufus Buck is truly terrible, even though in describing the background of his character, The Harder They Fall uses a “so-called” approach. Elba remains strong, even though the script’s efforts add complexity to the characters, by providing motivation about “looking for the promised land”, which is one of the characteristics of western narratives, only packaged so poorly.
The Harder They Fall is a typical style over substance spectacle. When action scenes are absent from the screen, practically only the charm of the actors remains. The story is often absent, before suddenly appearing near the end, in the form of a twist, whose purpose is limited to surprising the audience. Does not add emotional weight as expected, does not give influence and/or consequences to previous events. The twist also erased the potential for an epic showdown that had been anticipated from the start.
Despite missing the opportunity to deliver an epic conclusion, The Harder They Fall is still a stylishly entertaining spectacle. At least before the twist, the film was consistent with its “fun” approach, refusing to be too serious, and often even tickling. For example, when we take us to visit Marysville, which in addition to its function of throwing satire, also shows the achievements of its artistic order. Look at the visual comparison of Marysville aka “a white town” with Redwood. While the first city looks monotonous, the second city is the opposite, decorated with various colors. Captivating the eye as well as touching the taste. Top Movie