The Harder They Fall, Netflix’s Western Masterpiece


The Harder They Fall a film by Jeymes Samuel is a grizzled, bloody, unapologetically emotional masterpiece of Western proportions brought to you by the one and only, Netflix. The film follows two groups of outlaws as they travel the Western frontier making a name for themselves and their respective gangs. As the movie goes on you’ll find yourself rooting for both gangs, so when they inevitably come to a bloody confrontation you will be joyfully devastated at the results.

The story itself, often falls prey to the cliches of the modern western genre but changes it up in the form of the actors. In a predominantly white genre of film this movie utilizes the talents of Hollywood’s greatest African-american actors to bring this world to life. And it does so masterfully, the audience gets to see this lens of the “wild west” in a fresh way and it makes the whole experience exciting. With incredible talent like Idris Elba, Jonathan Majors, and Regina King this movie has incredibly powerful performances, which make the film what it is. But the characters and their actors aren’t the only the thing that makes this movie great, the story is masterful in its approach to an overall historically accurate portrayal of this time in our history. And although it falls into the cliches of the western at times, it does so in a way that plays into the themes of the story without being overly obvious.

In The Harder They Fall the two gangs are helmed by Jonathan Major’s character Nat Love, and Idris Elba’s character Rufus Buck. Love provides the story a protagonist that acts as a “robin hood” type outlaw. And Buck provides the story an antagonist that provides the story it’s ruthless outlaw mercenary. Though the story clearly frames Love as the hero of the story you will come to love Buck as the complexly evil outlaw that just wants to live free. The movie acts though not only as a gritty western but also as a mystery who done it type film. With twists and turns sprinkled throughout you’ll be trying to figure out the mystery the whole time. If you are anything like me you’ll be shocked at the biggest reveal, but in the best way possible.

But aside from it’s two main characters the film is jam packed with supporting characters that make the story rich and complex, and their actors are no different in their talents. With Regina King as Trudy Smith, the legendary second hand of Buck, Zazie Beets as Stagecoach Mary, a fierce and kind partner to Love and LaKeith Stanfield as Cherokee Jack, the infamous gunslinger currently working for Buck. And that’s not even all of the big supporting characters.

This movie is revolutionary in the sense that it’s doing something that hasn’t really been done in the same way before. The Harder They Fall romanticizes the wild west and makes these African-american characters so incredibly complex and interesting, whereas in the past it’s made them a joke or such a small role it’s laughable, it makes these characters cool, there really isn’t a better way to describe it. And I say it’s about time.