Review: Western 'The Harder They Fall' a Must on the Big Screen

by Noe Kamelamela

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday October 22, 2021

'The Harder They Fall'
'The Harder They Fall'  (Source:Netflix)

I recommend watching "The Harder They Fall" in a theatre if you can get to one. Beyond the larger tracking shots and pans of New Mexico as a stand-in for a few American late nineteenth century frontier towns, several of the gunfight tableaus should be witnessed on a big screen, with usage of the extreme edges of the shots.

There are few Black western films of this caliber, with team-up business more often found in popular superhero movies. Famous Black men and women lend their names to the main characters, if not their personal notoriety or histories. Netflix did fans of westerns a solid favor when releasing this film to select screens first. For audience members who are feeling less inclined to in-person gatherings, the remote streaming experience will still offer what feels like three movies that Jeymes Samuel rolled into one.

First, there is the origin story of the plucky antihero, a placid Jonathan Majors in an understated turn as Nat Love, the leader of a vicious gang.Second, members of the Nat Love gang make some soon-to-be-fatal mistakes they need to reckon with to either flee the gang life forever, or face potential fatal destinies head on. The third movie is the eventual clash between Nat's gang and the gang of the man Nat holds responsible for Nat's own descent into lawlessness. This is a violent two-hour film. The audience does not get Kung Fu with six shooters and knives; we get blood spattered, dirt covered, and ham-fisted fighting with very ugly corpses resulting. As such, this is not a family-friendly film, but older teenagers might enjoy it.

Music of the African diaspora features heavily, from hip-hop to reggae and back to modern Afrobeats. Within an ensemble piece of bad hombres facing off against bad hombres, the most credentialed actors make very sympathetic and stylish villains. I found myself more frequently rooting for the clearly deranged Trudy Smith (Regina King) and disturbed Rufus Buck (Idris Elba), not because they are good, but because their rage and money-hungry desperation are reasonable responses, even in the present day.

"The Harder They Fall" hits select theaters on October 22nd and begins streaming via Netflix on November 3rd.

Noe Kamelamela is a reader who reads everything and a writer who writes very little.