The Harder They Fall – An Extremely Entertaining, But Slightly Too Long Western – Film Review

The Harder They Fall (2021) - IMDb

Director: Jeymes Samuel

Writer: Jeymes Samuel and Boaz Yakin

Starring: Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Lakeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, Danielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi, Deon Cole and Damon Wayans Jr.

Rating: ★★★★

After premiering at London Film Festival last month to generally positive reviews, Jeymes Samuel’s The Harder They Fall has been released on Netflix as part of their endless parade of content. Unlike most of their films, this is really worth watching. It’s entertaining, filled with bloody violence and style.

Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) has spent his life seeking revenge for the murder of his parents. The man responsible, Rufus Buck (Idris Elba), has been broken out of prison and taken control of a small town. Nat and his old gang reunite to take on Rufus and take him down one and for all.

One of the first things you’ll notice about The Harder They Fall is that it is simply overflowing with stylish moments and flair. Everything; the set design, the music, the violence, the costumes. It just oozes cool. Director and co-writer Jeymes Samuel has a clear and distinct vision and nothing has stood in his way. The music, also by Samuel, is infused within the film. There’s an almost funky beat that sits in the background for important scenes, with superb songs that blend into the film perfectly. There are moments where you wouldn’t be surprised if people broke out into song.

While the film has some gritty and eye wincing moments, this isn’t trying to be realistic. The sets are filled with bold colours and stylised buildings – it feels almost like a comic book at times. There’s a bank that’s almost completely white, colour co-ordinated clothes drying on a line, black leather seats in a bar that feel like something out of a Tarantino film. Everything is beautifully captured by cinematographer Mihai Mălaimare Jr., with every shot feeling epic and cinematic in scale.

The violence is brutal, blood splattering in the air as people drop dead. The shoot outs are over the top and fun, while the up close and personal fighting and killing is intense and at points hard to watch. The fight between Rufus and a local sheriff is vicious and filled with jump cuts that highlight each hit.

The whole cast is excellent. Idris Elba and Regina King command the screen as the leaders of the outlaws, contrasting with Jonathan Majors and Zazie Beetz who lead the ones trying to take them down. The characters are all based on real people, but the events are completely fictional, which is pointed out at the beginning of the film. This isn’t a representation of history, but an entertaining and thrilling story.

Running at almost two and a half hours, there are moments when the film starts to slow down. There is probably twenty minutes that could be removed to speed things up a bit. It doesn’t matter that much though, because the final showdown is more than worth the wait.

The Harder They Fall is the first full length film from Jeymes Samuel, who’s made shorts before and worked as a music supervisor on Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. Samuel just does an amazing job all round, making this a must see for Netflix subscribers.  

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About ashleymanningwriter

Young Adult Fiction writer. Horror and fantasy blended together.
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