Hostiles is a 2017 American revisionist Western film written and directed by Scott Cooper, based on a story by Donald E. Stewart. It stars Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Wes Studi, Ben Foster, Stephen Lang, Jesse Plemons, Rory Cochrane, Adam Beach, Q'orianka Kilcher, and Jonathan Majors. It follows a U.S. Army cavalry officer who must escort a Cheyenne war chief and his family back to their home in Montana in 1892.
|Directed by||Scott Cooper|
|Screenplay by||Scott Cooper|
|Story by||Donald E. Stewart|
|Music by||Max Richter|
|Edited by||Tom Cross|
|Distributed by||Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures|
|Box office||$35.7 million|
The film had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on September 2, 2017, and had a limited release in the United States by Entertainment Studios beginning December 22, 2017, before going wide on January 26, 2018. It received generally positive reviews from critics and grossed $35 million worldwide.
Circa 1892, settler Rosalee Quaid and her family are attacked by a Comanche war group who kill her husband and three children. Rosalee escapes by hiding under a rock outcrop.
In Fort Berringer, New Mexico, soon-to-retire Captain Joseph Blocker is ordered by Colonel Abraham Biggs to escort Yellow Hawk, a Cheyenne war chief who is dying of cancer, and four members of his family back to their tribal lands in Montana, under the order of President Harrison. Blocker, who loathes Native Americans, initially refuses the assignment as Yellow Hawk had been responsible for the deaths of several of his soldiers during a battle. However, under threat of court-martial and loss of his pension, Blocker is forced to accept the orders. Blocker sets out for Montana accompanied by his old friend First Sergeant Thomas Metz, long-time aide Corporal Woodson, West Point newcomer Lieutenant Kidder, and young French-speaking recruit Private Dejardin.
As soon as the party is out of sight of the fort, Blocker has Yellow Hawk dismount and challenges him to a knife duel. Yellow Hawk refuses to take the offered knife, and says he is ready for death. Blocker then orders him and his son, Black Hawk, to be put in chains. The group comes across the Quaid house and the dead body of Rosalee's husband. Inside the house, they find a traumatised Rosalee and her three "sleeping" children. Rosalee, despite being initially shocked by the presence of the Native Americans in the party, agrees to join the company until their next stop-over in Fort Winslow, Colorado. They are soon ambushed by the Comanche who kill Dejardin and seriously injure Woodson before being forced to retreat by Blocker and the survivors. After the attack, Yellow Hawk convinces Blocker to unchain him and his family so they may assist in the next attack. The next day, the bodies of three Comanches who had managed to flee the attack are discovered. Blocker correctly deduces that Yellow Hawk and Black Hawk killed them, sneaking out of the camp after Metz had fallen asleep during his watch.
At Fort Winslow, the detail drops off the wounded Woodson who, knowing that with Blocker retiring they might not see each other again, says a tearful goodbye. It is implied that Blocker knew Woodson's father, and had taken him in after his father's death. Blocker arranges for Rosalee to stay with the fort's colonel, Ross McCowan, and his wife until Christmas, but she chooses to remain with Blocker and the group. Blocker is also asked by McCowan to take a disgraced Sergeant Charles Wills, once a member of Blocker's unit, to be court-martialed and hanged at his original post along the way to Montana for killing an Indian family with an axe. Two members of the fort, Corporal Thomas and Sergeant Malloy, join Blocker’s company to oversee Wills. After the group leaves the fort, Wills mocks Blocker for escorting the Natives.
While washing dishes in a stream after breaking camp, Rosalee, the chief's daughter Living Woman, and Black Hawk's wife Elk Woman are abducted and raped by three fur traders. Blocker’s detail, assisted by Yellow Hawk and Black Hawk, track down the fur traders, ambush and slaughter them, and rescue the women; however, Sergeant Malloy is killed in the skirmish. During a downpour the next night, Metz begins to act strangely, ranting incoherently about the mistreatment of Indians and his "time being up," worrying Blocker. Meanwhile, Wills feigns illness and fools Kidder into undoing his chains. Wills kills Kidder and escapes. Metz chases after him against Blocker's orders. The next day, the group finds the dead bodies of Wills and Metz, still clutching a gun in his hand, hinting that he had killed Wills before taking his own life, succumbing to decades of post-traumatic stress and guilt. A devastated Blocker is consoled by Rosalee. They travel farther north as Yellow Hawk's condition continues to deteriorate. Blocker makes peace with the chief for the hardships they have inflicted upon one another over the years.
Yellow Hawk dies just as the group arrives at the chief's tribal lands in Montana, where he is buried. As Blocker and others prepare to leave, a man and his three sons ride up, declare that they own the land, and order Blocker and the rest of the group to leave with the chief's body. Blocker informs them of the president's orders, only to be told at gunpoint to leave with the body or be killed. Blocker refuses, and a brutal shootout ensues, leaving Blocker, Rosalee, and Little Bear, Yellow Hawk's young grandson, as the only survivors. They bury Black Hawk, Living Woman, Elk Woman and Corporal Thomas next to the chief.
Rosalee decides to take Little Bear with her and start over in Chicago. On the platform at the Montana train station, the pair thank and bid an emotional farewell to Blocker. He hands Little Bear a gift: the works on war of Julius Caesar. He begins to leave the station, but as the train pulls out, Blocker jumps aboard and joins Rosalee and Little Bear.
- Christian Bale as Cpt. Joseph J. Blocker, a veteran of the Indian Wars.
- Rosamund Pike as Rosalee Quaid, a widow who joins Blocker's detail after the murder of her family by Comanches.
- Wes Studi as Chief Yellow Hawk, an imprisoned and sickly Cheyenne leader being taken home to die, and the father of Black Hawk and Living Woman.
- Jesse Plemons as Lt. Rudy Kidder, a fresh West Point graduate, part of the detail to escort Yellow Hawk home.
- Adam Beach as Black Hawk, Yellow Hawk's son and Elk Woman's husband.
- Rory Cochrane as 1st Sgt. Thomas Metz, a war-weary veteran who is among Blocker's oldest friends, part of the detail to escort Yellow Hawk Home.
- Peter Mullan as Lt. Col. Ross McCowan, commander of Fort Winslow, Colorado.
- Scott Wilson as Cyrus Lounde, the owner of Yellow Hawk's ancestral land. This marked the final film appearance of Wilson before his death in 2018.
- Paul Anderson as Cpl. Tommy Thomas, a British-born soldier from Fort Winslow escorting Wills to his hanging.
- Timothée Chalamet as Pvt. Philippe Dejardin, the youngest member of the detail to escort Yellow Hawk home.
- Ben Foster as Sgt. Charles Wills, a criminal soldier whom Blocker is charged with escorting to his hanging.
- Jonathan Majors as Cpl. Henry Woodson, a black soldier who served under Blocker for many years, part of the detail to escort Yellow Hawk home.
- John Benjamin Hickey as Cpt. Royce Tolan, a soldier stationed at Fort Berringer alongside Blocker.
- Q'orianka Kilcher as Elk Woman, Black Hawk's wife.
- Tanaya Beatty as Living Woman, Black Hawk's sister.
- Stephen Lang as Col. Abraham Biggs, Blocker's commanding officer
- Bill Camp as Jeremiah Wilks, frontier correspondent for Harper's Weekly.
- Scott Shepherd as Wesley Quaid, Rosalee's slaughtered husband.
- Ryan Bingham as Sgt. Malloy, a soldier from Fort Winslow escorting Wills to his hanging.
- Robyn Malcolm as Minnie McCowan, Col. McCowan's wife.
- Xavier Horsechief as Little Bear, the young son of Black Hawk and Elk Woman.
The project was announced in February 2016 with Scott Cooper as director and Christian Bale starring. In March, Rosamund Pike was cast, and a production start date of July was announced. In April, Jesse Plemons was cast. Wes Studi and Adam Beach were signed in June. In mid-July, Timothée Chalamet joined the cast.
Filming began late July in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Ben Foster was added to the cast at the beginning of filming. Ryan Bingham, who also stars in the film, wrote and performed "How Shall A Sparrow Fly" for the soundtrack. Max Richter composed the score for the film, which was released by Deutsche Grammophon.
The film had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on September 2, 2017. It was also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2017. Shortly after, Entertainment Studios acquired U.S. distribution rights to the film. It was released in a limited release in the United States on December 22, 2017, before expanding wide a month later.
Hostiles grossed $29.8 million in the United States and Canada, and $5.8 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $35.5 million.
In the United States and Canada, following several weeks in a limited run where it grossed $1.8 million, Hostiles had its wide expansion alongside the release of Maze Runner: The Death Cure, and was expected to gross around $10 million from 2,813 theaters over the weekend. It ended up opening to $10.1 million, finishing third behind The Death Cure ($24.2 million) and holdover Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle ($16.1 million). In its second weekend the film dropped 49.5% to $5.1 million, finishing fifth at the box office.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 72% based on 211 reviews, with a weighted average of 6.78/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Hostiles benefits from stunning visuals and a solid central performance from Christian Bale, both of which help elevate its uneven story." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 65 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it an overall 72% positive score.
Following its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival, Sasha Stone of TheWrap, wrote of the audiences' reaction to the film, saying, "Riveted by the glorious storytelling of Hostiles, a few Telluride audience members burst into spontaneous applause as it built to its conclusion". Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter wrote praise of the film and of the performance of Christian Bale, concluding that the film is an "estimable piece of work grounded by a fine-grain sensibility and an expertly judged lead performance".
Most of the criticism of the movie was aimed at its director, Scott Cooper. William Bibbiani of IGN said that Cooper wasted the talent of its actors and cinematographer in a "by-the-numbers storyline with a rather obvious message about how it's harder to be despicable to people after you get to know them". He went on to say, "Scott Cooper directs Hostiles with an eye for 'greatness' but the actual material simply isn't deep enough to justify the solemn presentation. It's not entertaining, it's not illuminating, it's not even complicated. It's mostly just a bummer".
Writing in The Atlantic, David Sims was critical of the "harsh and uncompromising" tone of the "classic revisionist western", describing the opening scenes as "gory, tough to watch, and short on dialogue, with Cooper intent on showing a world severely lacking in empathy."
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s) and nominee(s)||Result||Ref.|
|San Diego Film Critics Society||December 11, 2017||Best Costume Design||Jenny Eagan||Nominated|||
|Saturn Awards||June 27, 2018||Best Action or Adventure Film||Hostiles||Nominated|||
|Best Actress||Rosamund Pike||Nominated|
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- Sims, David (January 19, 2018). "Hostiles Is a Brutal, Shallow Western: Scott Cooper's new film sees Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, and Wes Studi battling through the American West in the 1890s". The Atlantic. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
- "2017 San Diego Film Critics Society's Award Nominations". San Diego Film Critics Society. December 9, 2017. Archived from the original on December 10, 2017. Retrieved December 9, 2017.
- "'Black Panther,' 'Walking Dead' Rule Saturn Awards Nominations". Variety. March 15, 2018. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- "'Black Panther' Tops 44th Saturn Awards With Five; 'Blade Runner 2049', 'Shape Of Water', 'Get Out' Also Score". Saturn awards. June 27, 2018. Retrieved June 27, 2018.