DVD Review: Hostiles

STUDIO: Lionsgate | DIRECTOR: Scott Cooper | CAST: Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Scott Shepherd, Timothee Chalamet, Wes Studi
RELEASE DATE: April 24, 2018 | PRICE: DVD $14.96, Blu-ray/DVD Combo $19.96, 4K Ultra HD $24.96
SPECS: R | 134 min. | Western | 2.39:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall

Leisurely paced and featuring moments of extreme violence, Hostiles is a meditative sagebrush saga that seems to have come from a different era—the 1970s to be precise, where revisionist westerns such as Soldier Blue, Ulzana’s Raid and Little Big Man dominated the cinematic landscape, offering fresh views on the old cowboys and Indians story.

The film opens in New Mexico in the year 1892 in alarming style with a nasty massacre of nearly an entire settler family by marauding Comanches. We are then introduced to cavalry Captain Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale, Knight of Cups), whose disdain for Native-Americans is matches only by their disdain for him. His new assignment has him begrudgingly escorting a sickly Comanche chief (Wes Studi, Being Flynn) to his rightful burial place, 1000 miles away. Blocker is accompanied by other soldiers on the perilous trek (including one played by Call Me By Your Name’s Oscar-nominated Timothee Chalamet) that eventually leads him to Rosalee (Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl), the one surviving member of the opening  slaughter.

Writer-director Scott Cooper (Black Mass, Crazy Heart) shows an obvious adoration for savagery and classic westerns here, as disturbingly violent acts fill the screen against gorgeous western landscapes. But even with doses of carnage, the film is in no hurry to get to where it’s going, and, when it finally arrives, its somewhat of a letdown. Scott’s script, adapted from a screenplay that was penned nearly two decades ago, is somewhat simplistic, lacking the profundity he’s striving for. It also doesn’t help that the film clocks in at a hefty two and a quarter hours.

Still, there should be some applause directed at Cooper for having the chutzpah to fashion a $40 million western with independent financing. A release in the middle of the 2017 awards season led to a $31 million American box-office return that proved disappointing, But interest in the fine cast (which also includes Ben Foster, Rory Cochrane, Stephen Lang and Adam Beach), the genre and, yes, Cooper’s visceral approach, will help it find a sizable posse of fans in its post-theatrical life.

Buy or Rent Hostiles

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.