Blu-ray Review Crime

'Wind River' Blu-ray Review: A raw and gripping, modern-day crime-drama

November 14, 2017Ben MK

The mystery at the core of Wind River — the death of an 18-year-old girl (Kelsey Asbille) from the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming — is one that feels ripped from the headlines, but at the same time, it also isn't. That's because each year in North America, countless Aboriginal women fall victim to similar circumstances, yet the plight of missing or murdered Indigenous women is an epidemic that goes largely ignored.

Jeremy Renner plays Corey Lambert, a wildlife officer who stumbles upon the girl's body while out hunting for a lion that's been preying upon livestock on the reservation. Having lost his own 16-year-old daughter three years earlier, the discovery dregs up painful memories for him and his Native American ex-wife (Julia Jones), and it sets him on a deeply personal quest to find the girl's killer. To do so, he teams up with Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen), a rookie FBI agent from Las Vegas who finds herself, unsurprisingly, out of her element in the Wyoming snow.

The directorial debut of Hell or High Water and Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan, Wind River was also scripted by Sheridan, who continues to demonstrate an acute understanding of just what makes a crime thriller of this nature tick. Entrenched firmly in the gritty authenticity of its characters and the desolation of their surroundings, the plot is deceptively simple, but it doesn't rely on stylistic flourishes, procedural mumbo jumbo or excessive violence to keep viewers engrossed, instead leaning on the outstanding performances of its actors.

At the forefront are Renner and Olsen, who are joined by their counterpart from the television side of the Marvel universe, Jon Bernthal, whose brief role provides the movie with its best expectation-subverting moment, if only for the way it plays on Bernthal's reputation for taking on usavory characters. However, it's their Aboriginal co-stars, among them The Twilight Saga's Gil Birmingham, The Magnificent Seven's Martin Sensmeier and veteran actors Tantoo Cardinal and Graham Greene, who deliver the film's rawest and most gripping performances.

Wind River's impressive cinematography has translated well to Blu-ray. The film juxtaposes brutal violence with the purity of a snow-blown backdrop, leading to some truly stunning and visceral visual compositions, all of which are rendered with the utmost clarity and color fidelity in 1080p. Meanwhile, on the audio side, the story is much the same, with the disc's Dolby TrueHD 5.1 sound mix maximizing the aural impact of snowmobiles, gunshots and physical confrontations in comparison to the movie's pensive dialogue and haunting score.

VVS Films' single-disc Blu-ray release includes the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Behind the Scenes (17:27) - Elizabeth Olsen, Jeremy Renner and Taylor Sheridan talk about such things as their roles, working with one another, preparing for the movie, filming in challenging outdoor conditions, the subject matter and more.
  • Deleted Scenes (3:11) - Two scenes.

Wind River is available from VVS Films as of November 14th, 2017. The Blu-ray features English and French Dolby TrueHD 5.1 tracks. The film is presented with English and French subtitles. The total runtime is 1 hr. 47 min.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on August 9th, 2017.

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