Remixed Western ‘The Harder They Fall’ Reviewed

by Tito W. James


Forget everything you know about the Western genre and buckle up. The Harder They Fall remixes the Western genre and delivers one of the most expertly crafted cinematic visions of the year.



When an outlaw Nat love (Jonathan Majors) discovers his enemy Rufus Buck (Idris Elba) is being released from prison, he reunites his gang to seek revenge.

The Western genre has been a tough sell for contemporary audiences. While there were great Westerns, too many suffered from being slow, taking place in drab environments, and being made primarily for “White America.” However, The Harder They Fall takes every critique of the genre and flips them upside down. The film is expertly paced, the environments and costumes are alive with theatrical color, and the characters are inspired by real-life Black gunslingers.

The Harder They Fall is like a Western where every character is Django. As such, viewers can expect over-the-top blood, sharp dialogue, and anachronistic music that somehow still works. While director Jeymes Samuel clearly has a love for the genre and respect for past films, he’s no mere copycat. The fish-eye effect used to illustrate Rufus Buck’s first breath out of prison is just one of the many stylistic choices made to make the viewer feel a part of the film. In a year stacked with films by visionary directors Samuel’s bold directorial choices still cut through like a knife.

The cast for The Harder They Fall is phenomenal with stand out performances by Regina King and LaKeith Stanfield. King plays possibly the toughest woman in the Wild West while Stanfield opts for a disarmingly charming quick-draw. If there was any critique I could give the film, it was that I more invested in the villains than the heroes (but that’s not necessarily a bad thing).

Even as a viewer who actively dislikes the Western genre I was blown away by The Harder They Fall. It’s easily one of the best films of the year with Oscar-worthy directing and performances.

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