Review: ‘The Harder They Fall’ is the best Western since ‘Django Unchained’

Netflix’s newest brings new thrills to an old genre

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The film also boasts an all-star cast and soundtrack curated by producer, Jay-Z.

Once again, the Western genre is back with another attempt to revive an ages-old class of filmmaking. With a handful of critical and commercial duds over the years, including 2016’s “The Magnificent Seven” reboot and this year’s Clint Eastwood flick, “Cry Macho”, it’s safe to say that the Western category needed a jumpstart to hold any modern relevancy.

With the last successful and memorable Western being 2012’s “Django Unchained” from Quentin Tarantino, the field was open for the taking as long as it brought forth a fresh and forward-thinking take that would get people to spend time and money on the project. Rest assured, “The Harder They Fall” offers that and much more.

Co-produced by Jay-Z, the film centers around Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) who discovers that his longtime enemy Rufus Buck (Idris Elba) is being released from prison. When Love unearths this information, he recruits his former team of gang members to track him down and exact revenge.

The film slowly turns into a bloody revenge epic that showcases a top-tier cast facing off against one another, with Westerners refusing to accept defeat until the end of the line. It’s a storyline that’s been done time and time again yet set against a refreshing backdrop with new life breathed into it.

“The Harder They Fall” offers an all-star cast that sees veterans in the modern film industry put forth some of their most unique performances yet. The film stars Majors (The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Loki), with supporting performances from Elba, along with Regina King, LaKeith Stanfield and Zazie Beetz.

Aside from the refreshing plot and stellar acting, the film’s soundtrack, also curated by Jay-Z, is a delight for fans of all ages. The soundtrack spans genres offering everything from the old sounds of the Wild West to new sounds of modern hip-hop. The film’s lead single was released days before the film to promote its upcoming release.

“King Kong Riddim”, the first collaboration from Jay-Z, Jadakiss and Conway the Machine offers a glimpse into the film’s world and its intentions to create a new-school film set in an old-school universe and genre.

Clocking in at just over two hours in length, the film does leave audiences feeling as if there would have been more to offer from this high class of acting. Many of the larger names in the film, such as Stanfield and Beetz, picked up traction over the past few years and have launched into a new level of stardom.

While they did sign on for a supportive role from the beginning, the film felt as if it had more to offer their characters that was left on the cutting room floor. Had the film been slightly more ambitious in building a world around these characters and reviving the Western classic genre, their characters could have been led to developing spin-offs, as the charismatic roles given to them make audiences desperate and clamoring for more.

For anyone who’s been missing out on a classic Western flick in a near-forgotten genre, “The Harder They Fall” is more than worth the price of admission. While it may take time to reach the level of “Tombstone”, “Unforgiven” and “Django”, the new-school take may be exactly what the dying genre needs to thrive once again.

“The Harder They Fall” is available on Netflix now.

Review: 3.5/5

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