Image Courtesy: Audacy

The Harder They Fall is a Western film, based on real characters, but fictional events. It is a movie that marks a change in Western movies by focusing on non-White historical characters in the old West. It also contains an all-Black cast, marking two big shifts in Western films.

With that being said, the movie is not what one would expect of a classic Western with the high-intensity chases, the shootouts, and the adrenaline rush. While all these elements are present in the movie, the high energy in the scenes seems to be lacking.

The Honorable and the Notorious

The protagonist of the film is Nat Love, the leader of the Nat Love Gang. While they are outlaws, they do not engage in the usual bank robberies or jumping travelers. The Nat Love Gang’s tradition is to rob outlaws who had robbed others.

Image Courtesy: Radio Times

The antagonist is Rufus Buck, a notorious outlaw, who actually seems to be trying to protect his town when the area is being opened for settlement. However, the methods he follows to raise money are not as noble as his intentions.

Both of the characters are well established. We see the Nat Love Gang rob another gang that is making off with stolen cash. We also see Rufus Buck and his gang’s ominous and heartlessness when they are introduced. However, the attempt to make the movie a comic Western makes the movie a bland mix of flavors.

The Gang Members

Each character in both of the gangs is introduced with their own skills and their screen time. There are quick drawers in both the gangs, a female member, and the leader themselves. While the story revolves around Nat Love and his quest for vengeance, the movie makes sure to get the viewer interested in each of the characters.

We are introduced to Stagecoach Mary (Zazie Beetz), the strong independent woman who runs her saloons and has a romantic history with Nat Love (Jonathan Majors). She also has her fight scene with Trudy Smith (Regina King), the second-in-hand to Rufus Buck (Idris Elba).

Then there is Jim Beckworth (RJ Cyler), who believes he is the quickest hand and wants to challenge Cherokee Bill (LaKeith Stanfield). Then we have Bill Pickett (Edi Gathegi), who does not have such a purpose as the others.  However, he makes an important addition to the Gang as a shooter.

Image Courtesy: Netflix

Cuffee (Danielle Deadwyler) makes an interesting and comic addition to the Nat Love Gang, There is the former outlaw, who had become a Sheriff and a Mayor, Wiley Escoe (Deon Cole). Finally, there is Bass Reeves (Delroy Lindo), who teams up with Nat Love in his quest. Each of the characters is interesting on their own and has a purpose apart from just aiding their parties.

The Presentation

The story is quite simple, but not predictable. The movie is medium-paced but manages to keep the viewer interested in its wonderful characters. There is some anticipation of the encounter between the gangs, but the encounter fails to deliver, especially the non-participation of the antagonist in any major fight scene.

Image Courtesy: Netflix

Attempts to integrate some comedy in all the high-intensity scenes deprive viewers of the usual adrenaline rush and high-intensity fights. The final encounter is slow-paced and does not feel like the one the viewer would have anticipated. However, the revelation at the end makes up for what the viewer might have missed in terms of combat.

The Harder They Fall is a fine revisionist Western film and one that will be a fine watch. Its weakness is its combination of shootouts and light humor. If it had gone either one way, it could have delivered a better movie. However, each character is well-written and enacted. The movie is worth a watch, so get your popcorn and grab your screen, The Harder They Fall is now streaming on Netflix.

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