A veteran tracker with the Fish and Wildlife Service helps investigate the murder of a young Native American woman, using the case as a means of seeking redemption for an earlier act of irresponsibility which ended in tragedy.
Starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen, along with the always-excellent Graham Greene, I was surprised by how moving the movie was even as it ratcheted up the tension from opening scene to The End.
The other nice surprise is how Renner, who plays tracker Cory Lambert, nailed the accent and attitude of a native son of Wyoming. I've been to Wyoming. It takes a survival mentality to endure the winters not to mention the other challenges in a state with a population slightly more than 585,000 inhabitants and an economy driven by mineral extraction (oil, gas, coal, mainly) and tourism.
Renner as Lambert, estranged from his Arapaho wife due to the tragic death of their daughter, is compelling and believable. Yes, he's seeking redemption, but it's more of an unconscious part of his makeup than an overt goal.
In fact, I think he's driven more by a need for justice. Forget law and trials and appeals. Lambert is a hard man, living in a hard world. As he tells rookie FBI Agent Jane Banner, played by Elizabeth Olsen, when Banner says she survived because she was lucky: "Luck lives in the city. Luck doesn't live here."
Lambert is not a vigilante, but, in his world, he knows that sometimes you get justice only when you make it happen--that would be Old Testament type justice.
Olsen is excellent in her role as the newbie FBI agent Jane Banner, who's smart enough to know she's out of her element with not only the case but also the unforgiving landscape and weather of the state of Wyoming.
There are some errors and/or goofs in the movie, but don't let that detract from the excellence of this film.
If you're looking for a riveting story, emotional resonance, and superb acting, choose Wind River.