The Harder They Fall movie poster
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The Harder They Fall
The Harder They Fall movie poster

The Harder They Fall Movie Review

A stylish and entertaining western that isn’t quite as good as it thinks it is, The Harder They Fall features a nearly all-Black cast and charisma to spare, but is dragged down by an overly wordy script that sags in the middle.

Idris Elba plays the villain, a ruthless criminal who rules over a town out west, while Jonathan Majors is protagonist Nat Love, a protagonist director Jeymes Samuels clearly cares little about. The Harder They Fall is stuffed full of recognizable Black actors, though the bad guys get most of the good parts—Regina King and LaKeith Stanfield are among those honored with meaty, or at least cheeky, roles. The unequal weighting causes Major to get lost in his own film (along with his other uninteresting protagonists); he’s fine but forgettable in a film that is more fine and forgettable than it should have been.

The screenplay, co-written by Samuels and Boaz Yakin, is what that ultimately weighs the movie down. Though scene by scene the film boasts witty and cleverly dialogue, altogether it comes off as tedious, rambling, and at times aimless. There’s way too much talking in the hour leading to the action-packed climax; it feels as if it wants to and thinks it is the next Quentin Tarantino extravaganza, but it isn't. This is Samuel’s feature debut; there’s talent here, both with the camera and the pen, but he will need to be more willing to cut even the best of moments if they don’t contribute to story’s overall entertainment value. And The Harder They Fall, as good as it is at times, misses its mark in that regard.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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