Wind River Blu-ray Review
Going off the reservation
Sicario writer Taylor Sheridan delivers an impressive writer/director debut with Wind River, a gripping and richly character-driven mystery thriller.Completing the trifecta after writing the scripts for the excellent Hell and High Water and the outstanding Sicario, Sheridan takes his place behind the camera for this thematically similar piece, effectively rounding out what is his Western-infused trilogy. Wind River uses a simple murder mystery to shine a spotlight on a cadre of damaged characters in a land full of embittered people who have long since abandoned all hope of escape. The narrative sees Jeremy Renner's hunter drawn into a case involving a dead local girl on a reservation, with Elizabeth Olsen's assigned FBI agent needing his help to navigate the community and the vast stretches of snowy, unforgiving territory.Sheridan elicits some great little performances out of both Renner, who hasn't been on this good form since The Town, and Olsen, who's proven herself an impressive and underrated actress in her indie work. Indeed, as is perhaps common for Sheridan-scripted fare, it's the characters that define the piece, remaining so important that even a fairly routine murder mystery (albeit coloured by the unusual environment and circumstances) is given a chance to graduate to the level of indie gem due to this unusual focus, which in turn heightens the tension during the action, turning a simple skirmish into an unbearable standoff. It's another memorable gem from the blossoming writer/director.
Picture QualityWind River comes to UK Blu-ray complete with a largely stunning 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen. Shot digitally at a higher resolution by Arri Alexas, the film's capped by a 2K Digital Intermediate, not that this makes any difference to the lower resolution Blu-ray, which clearly has some great material to work with, delivering the gorgeous mountain vistas in all their snowy glory and offering up unlikely demo video.
An excellent video presentation
Detail is impressive throughout, particularly on close-ups, which reveal Renner's light facial hair and increasingly weathered look, and the intricacies of the icy, snowy environment, whilst broader shots take in the panoramic views with greater room for pure majesty. The colour scheme is inherently restricted by the setting, but rather than leave it with a dour, almost monochromatic edge, the exteriors shots are still rendered with an eye for their innate beauty, with rich wood tones and sparks of vivid primaries in the snowsuits the characters wear. Admittedly black levels aren't quite as strong as they could have been, limiting what could have otherwise been near picture perfection, and restricting the potential for more impressive shadow detail, but still, overall, it's an excellent video presentation.
Sound QualityAn impressive piece of demo work
The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is also an impressive piece of demo work, delivering dialogue with clarity and precision across the frontal array, but also bringing the environment to life with subtle observation of the snowy, isolated setting. Even the tiniest of sounds - crackles, creaks, or a growling mountain cat - get acute coverage, whilst the thunder of a supersonic gunshot cracks out across the landscape. Gunfire is intermittent but devastatingly loud, showing just what the track can do when called upon, and bringing the LFE channel in for heavyweight support, whilst the surrounds afford shots some directionality and precision. The score marries up to the film's emotional undercurrents, sweeping you up when necessary and rounding out a demo audio track.
ExtrasA short Behind the Scenes Featurette and a couple of minutes of Deleted Scenes
Blu-ray VerdictAnother memorable gem from this blossoming writer/director
After writing Hell and High Water and Sicario (and it's eagerly anticipated sequel), Taylor Sheridan makes his directorial debut in style with Wind River, a compelling mystery thriller that earns itself an impressive UK Blu-ray release complete with demo video and audio. It's a must have release that comes highly recommended.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.99
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