Rob Reviews "The Harder They Fall"
It is well documented on our show that I am a HUGE fan of westerns. I am from a generation where we watched them a LOT on TV mainly because stations could show the old black-and-white ones ad nauseum due to being able to do so INCREDIBLY cheaply (rights issues really were not a thing back then), but that just gave me more entertaining things to watch. They are starting to come back and even playing with the formula in a number of different ways, but perhaps none more complete on any level that Jeymes Samuel’s first full-length feature Netflix is featuring, “The Harder They Fall”.
Produced by Shawn Carter (yes, THAT Shawn Carter… so you know I’m already in), Jonathan Majors plays Nat Love, a man whose childhood trauma caused by Rufus Buck (Idris Elba) brings him to the life of a revenge-seeking outlaw. When he finds out that Buck has been released from prison, he and his gang look to finally finish settling Love’s score while at the same time realizing there is A LOT more to their battle with Buck’s gang.
In case you missed it from the end of the first paragraph, there is nothing I didn’t like about this film. OK, there was one thing, but that would be a spoiler… but let’s just start with the cast. Regina King, LaKeith Stanfield, Zazi Beetz, Edi Gathegi, Delroy Lindow, and Deon Cole are just the tip of the iceberg here. Each actor in this film brings a level of game that is simply pitch perfect against a backdrop of cinematography that is shot with a combination of new school technology and old school homage (check towards the end for a couple of “cinescope” shots that brought me joy) that will appeal to cinephiles and casual fans alike. I honestly feel a bit bad that audiences do not seem to be getting a chance to see this theatrically because I feel like this was the intention that Samuel wants “The Harder They Fall” to be seen; it’s THAT gorgeous.
There are a couple of moments where I wondered how the story was going to handle the things it was setting up along the way, but it does so in a way that doesn’t make subplots seem shoehorned in and functions to the overall plot seamlessly and in the most entertaining of ways. I know that I am being vague here, but to discuss the ways that this is done in the script almost feels like I would be spoiling the ride that this film took me on. Even clearing two hours and ten minutes didn’t bother me in any way. And for those out there that are not well-versed in westerns and what makes one great, the music is a HUGE part in that particular assessment and this has it on a level that is top-notch. I mean, when Jay-Z is one of the producers there is a level of expectation on what the soundtrack will be, and this one SLAYS. I will be on the lookout for it when it drops as I found myself bobbing my head to the beat almost every time without it taking away from my enjoyment of what was going on. The timing of when Samuel wants the audience to focus on the action (and YES, there is a shootout at the climax of this film that is nothing short of a pure adrenaline RUSH) and when he wants the audience to enjoy the music as it enhances what is on the scene is nothing short of the proverbial chef’s kiss.
Even though it may not make a theatrical run unless there might be some awards talk, “The Harder They Fall” is one to definitely put on the “must watch” list. Although there are some VERY adult themes here, do not let that stop you from seeing this film even if you have to get a sitter or someone to take the younger ones out for the evening. It also may enhance the experience to do so with a group of friends so you can all react to some of it together. Regardless of the size of the group or lack thereof, SEE THIS FILM.