Jeymes Samuel‘s The Harder They Fall (Netflix, later this year) seems to be a harmless, ultra-violent, all-black fantasy-revenge western — a gang of African-American desperadoes (Jonathan Majors, LaKeith Stanfield, Regina King, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Delroy Lindo, Danielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi, R.J. Cyler, Damon Wayans Jr., Deon Cole) holdin’ up trains, settlin’ scores, blowin’ holes in a bunch of white guys, etc.
No harm, no foul…and it’s probably about as good as Antoine Fuqua‘s The Magnificent Seven (’16), which I called “cheap dogshit.”
For me the stand-out element is Zack Sharf’s IndieWire story about same — ‘The Harder They Fall’ Trailer: Netflix Western Unites Majors, Elba, King, Beetz, Lindo, Stanfield — which posted this morning at 8:15 am. At no point in Sharf’s story is there an acknowledgement that this is a western about an all-black gang (or gangs). Sharf notes that Netflix is calling this a “new school Western,” but that’s as far as he’ll go. The implication is that it’s somehow racist (or racialist) to acknowledge the basic shot here. Weird.
Synopsis: “When outlaw Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) discovers that his enemy Rufus Buck (Idris Elba) is being released from prison he rounds up his gang to track Rufus down and seek revenge. Those riding with him in this assured, righteously new school Western include his former love Stagecoach Mary (Zazie Beetz), his right and left hand men — hot-tempered Bill Pickett (Edi Gathegi) and fast drawing Jim Beckwourth (R.J. Cyler) and a surprising adversary-turned-ally. Rufus Buck has his own fearsome crew, including ‘Treacherous’ Trudy Smith (Regina King) and Cherokee Bill (LaKeith Stanfield), and they are not a group that knows how to lose.”