The Harder They Fall
𝐃𝐢𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐨𝐫 – 𝐉𝐞𝐲𝐦𝐞𝐬 𝐒𝐚𝐦𝐮𝐞𝐥
𝐑𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞 – 𝟏𝟑𝟎 𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐬
𝐏𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦 – 𝐍𝐞𝐭𝐟𝐥𝐢𝐱
“While the story is fictional, These. People. Existed”. With that statement Samuel and Yakin show at the outset what they are tying to do with The Harder They Fall, create a western with predominantly black leads and black antagonists and then don’t mine that conceit for anything else, but just tell a fun entertaining story.
I wonder if Samuel is a fan of Bollywood movies? Because his storytelling sensibilities delve very much into the best of the Bollywood potboilers, but the difference in The Harder they fall is it doesn’t have the misogyny, sexism or even sub-par acting that plague most Bollywood potboilers. The storytelling being coherent and simple also helps.
This is a movie with a stacked cast but also a movie with a very assured direction and a clear love for the western genre. The cinematography, the action sequences, the shootouts, the quick-draw sequences, the entrances of the heroes and villains all hearken to both classics westerns as well as spaghetti westerns with regards to the violence. This is also a movie which is filled with style, swagger and sexiness. Samuel knows that he is shooting well known as well as good looking actors and he has no compunctions in using that. The sequence where Jonathan Majors’ Nat and Zazie Beatz’s Mary’s eyes meet in the salon while Beatz is singing an energetic soul anthem is dripping with sexiness. Their chemistry too as a result is off the charts here. Similarly the dialogue too is snappy, anachronistic at times, but definitely quotable, and each of these dialogues manage to flesh out the characters and the large cast to see them evolve beyond the traditional archetypes.
However the story is a fairly simple revenge tale, a buildup to a battle between two outlaw gangs, but the setup to that buildup takes a tad bit too long than such a story actually needed. The soundtrack comprising of original songs as well as needle drops of other well known tracks are well curated, and Samuel has a knack of editing and stringing action sequences with the cadence and verve of the song, making it a very visceral and enjoyable experience. However Samuel’s tendency to overuse songs at every scene change or at the beginning of every key action sequence becomes tiresome after a while. While not as bad as say David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, The Harder They Fall does start to overstay its welcome after a point due to the overuse of songs in its core.
Expecting The Harder They Fall to be a deeper and complex examination of race and become a revisionist western will be a moot point here. Instaed The Harder They Fall is a fun and entertaining genre movies, starring a stacked cast of actors led by a scene stealing Jonathan Majors and a charismatic, channeling his inner Sidney Poitier and Henry Fonda, Idris Elba. Filled with style, swagger and sexiness The Harder They Fall is definitely a remix of a genre we don’t see very often.
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.