Movie Review: The Harder They Fall
If you have a thing for Western movies, gather here, and let’s make a toast. Having loved a couple of Westerns like The Good Bad and Ugly and Django the Unchained, seeing the trailer of The Harder They Fall gave me chills. The Harder They Fall is a fantastical Western movie directed by Jeymes Samuel and co-produced by Jay-Z. The movie tells a revenge story of Western outlaws, Nat Love and Rufus Buck, two popular names that existed in the West during the 19th and 20th centuries. Thus, the movie disclaims with an open card that states “While the events of this story are fictional, These. People. Existed. Nevertheless, some of the movie characters share some things in common with their real-life replicas. For example, the real-life Rufus Buck led a gang of outlaws in the Indian Territory of the Arkansas-Oklahoma area from July 30 through August 4 of 1895, they were known for the killing of U.S. deputy marshal John Garrett.
The opening scene is one thing to talk about, whoosh, it was slick!. The movie opened with a couple and their son about having a lovely dinner in their cozy room setting when they were interrupted by some guests who didn’t only ruin their dinner but the rest of their lives. This dreadful well-built figure with a pair of golden pistols walked in without saying a word and shot both the husband and wife at the table leaving their son with a Crucifix on his forehead. Fast forward to some time later in Salinas, Texas, we find out that the little boy, named Nat Love has grown to become a feared gunslinger and outlaw who has embarked on a revenge mission to find Rufus Buck, the man that killed his parents. He starts off by killing “The Scorpion”, an accomplice to the murder. Don’t let us forget the epic intro here as the title of the movie was introduced with every shot sent into Scorpion’s body. Somewhere in the country, Rufus Buck’s widely feared gang hijacked a train boarded by passengers and ten white soldiers in order to free Rufus Buck who is making his first facial appearance, thirty minutes into the movie. The art of suspense was well executed here as one of the major attractions to this movie for a lot of people is the appearance of Idris Elba as the epic villain and the wait was worth it.
Buck’s gang led by Trudy Smith, Cherokee Bill, and himself return to Redwoods, a black county in the deserts which he ran before he was arrested. However, on getting there, he finds out that Wiley Escoe who he left in charge of the county now runs it like he owns it. He gives Wiley a beating of his life and allows him to escape into the woods. On hearing that his archenemy, Rufus Buck has been released from Federal prison, Nat sets off with a gang of two gunslingers (Beckwourth and Bill Pickett), his lover, Stagecoach Mary, and her foreman, Cuffee and Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves to take his long-awaited revenge.
Should we talk about the casting, surely yeah! All the characters were well crafted and superbly played, you would wish all of them were given the chance to play major characters. Though it’s my first time viewing Jonathan Majors (Nat Love), I fell in love with his acting, and I don’t know why I still think he is Yoruba or must have Yoruba blood in him (lol). And for our all-time fave, Idris Elba who acted as Rufus Buck played the villain of the West. Regina King as Trudy gave us all the spice and badassness a lady gangster would; another strong feminine figure is Stagecoach Mary who for some part of the movie played “the damsel in distress”. She owns a number of saloons across the region and she is popular for her art. “I made things. I built things, and I ain’t gonna risk all that just because you decide to come trotting back.” After bragging to her lover, Nat Love, she gives up all of that and goes on a revenge mission with him. I feel Mary is like many of us, you think you’ve built something so beautiful that you wouldn’t want to let go and suddenly there is this bigger situation that demands you forgo all that you think you’ve built. Mary in this circumstance did that for her lover, and as the Lamb’s bride, I should be able to do that and much more for my Bridegroom.
Now let’s skip to the best part… the soundtracks were amazing, one would gladly make a playlist of them. I also like the fact that some of the characters like Nat and Rufus sing and whistle to the soundtracks giving it a kinda musical vibe. Particularly, Mary’s music performance at her nightclub was remarkably interesting, still got some of its lyrics stuck in my head. The soundtrack is made up of songs of different genres of music including reggae and hip-hop, and our very own Afrobeat by the legend, Fela Kuti. On that note, my favorite scene ( no bias included) will be the fight between Mary and Trudy. I like how the fight was introduced with Fela’s words in the song, Let’s Start, “O l’oun t’awa se n’yara, je ka bere.”
To round it all up, I think The Harder They Fall is a good movie to watch, I mean, if it wasn’t I wouldn’t write a review. Although, I feel the storyline is quite basic for the two hours the movie lasted. As someone said, The Harder they Fall is a mess, but a good mess. The movie is currently streaming on Netflix, so get your popcorn ready and enjoy!
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