Jonathan Majors and Damon Wayans Jr. in a scene from “The Harder They Fall.” Photo/Netlifx/TNS
By: Zachary C. Young, Editor-in-Chief
“The Harder They Fall” is a modern western that was released on Netflix on Oct. 22. The film showcases an all-star cast consisting of Edris Elba, Regina King, Zazie Beetz, Jonathan Majors, LaKeith Stanfield and Delroy Lindo.
This is a refreshing and contemporary take on the western genre with an all-Black cast. The characters portrayed are historical figures, although the storyline is fictional. This film is crucial to the representation of Black Americans. According to rancholoscerritos.org, during the late 1800’s approximately 20-25% of all cowboys in the West were African American.
This is a commonly disregarded fact in American cinema, where most western viewers only think of white cowboys fighting Native Americans on the western frontier. Since this movie shows an often forgotten part of African American history, it is a must watch during Black History Month.
The directorial style in the action scenes are reminiscent of director Quentin Tarentino with the violence and gore being vividly intense.
“The Harder They Fall” was directed by Jeymes Samuel aka The Bullitts, a British singer-songwriter and filmmaker. The film was also produced by The Bullitts and JAY-Z, and the soundtrack features music from household names in Hip-Hop and R&B such as Kid Cudi, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Seal, Jay-Z and CeeLo Green. The runtime for the movie is 2 hours and 19 minutes.
Samuel’s most notable film is “They Die by Dawn,” another all-black western starring Rosario Dawson, Michael Kenneth Williams and Erykah Badu.
“The Harder They Fall” follows the life of a young outlaw by the name of Nat Love, played by Jonathan Majors and his gang as they rob other outlaws on their path to help Love seek revenge for the death of his family after he witnessed them being murdered at the age of 10. Love’s love interest in the film is Stagecoach Mary played by Zazie Beetz.
Edris Elba portrays another historical outlaw by the name of Rufus Buck and members of his gang include Treacherous Trudy Smith, played by Regina King and Cherokee Bill played by LaKeith Stanfield. Smith and Bill break Buck out of a military guarded train and return him to his hometown where he hopes to regain control.
Buck and Love’s paths cross when Love and his gang rob another group of outlaws who successfully pulled off a bank heist worth $25,000. Love’s gang kills the outlaws, but not before learning the $25,000 belonged to Rufus Buck.
In the film there are many shootouts and quick draws in the middle of dirt roads outside of the territory’s saloon, which is a common theme in Western movies. You see multiple train and bank robberies throughout the movie, another common theme in Westerns.
The script is well written, even witty and comical in many scenes. I highly recommend this movie, even to those who are not fans of Westerns.