The Harder They Fall is a Revisionist Western film directed by Jeymes Samuel, who co-wrote the screenplay with Boaz Yakin. It is one of few Westerns whose principal cast members are all Black. Although The Harder They Fall is a fictional film, its characters are based on real cowboys, lawmen, and outlaws of the 19th-century American West. Judging from the trailers, The Harder They Fall appeared to be an exciting, fast-paced all-black western that you wouldn’t want to miss. It stars some brilliant, well-established, and very popular actors. I must confess, I absolutely loved it.
11-year-old Nat Love (Chase W. Dillon) is eating dinner with his parents, Elinor Love (DeWanda Wise) and Nathanial Buck Love (Michael Beach) when a knock on their door proves to be a fatal visit from dad’s past. A cowboy and his associate grace their dinner table shooting and killing first the mother, then the father. Before leaving the cowboy carves a cross into Nat’s forehead, at this point, we are not shown the killer cowboy.
Twenty years later, Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) finds and kills the associate whose name is Jesus Cortez (Julio César Cedillo). Meanwhile, his partners, sharpshooter Bill Pickett (Edi Gathegi) and quick draw Jim Beckwourth (RJ Cyler) ambush the Crimson Hood gang and steal their haul from a recent bank robbery. The lone survivor tells them the $25,000 they have stolen belongs to Rufus Buck (Idris Elba). Nat travels to meet his former lover Stagecoach Mary Fields (Zazie Beetz), who runs a chain of saloons. Pickett brings news of the heist to Love.
Buck’s gang, led by Trudy Smith (Regina King) and Cherokee Bill (Lakeith Stanfield), forcefully free Buck from a train transporting him from Yuma Territorial Prison. It is revealed that Buck has been pardoned, and their mission, for which they have been paid, is to kill the corrupt U.S. Army soldiers guarding the prison car. After slaughtering the soldiers, Buck and his gang arrive in their former stronghold of Redwood City, now run by Buck’s associate, Sheriff Wiley Escoe (Deon Cole). Learning that Escoe has used his position as the sheriff to profit at the expense of the town, Buck brutally pistol whips him and orders him to leave town. Buck gathers the townspeople and after killing a naysayer, demands that they raise $15,000 to save the town of Redwood, threatening to kill and burn the property of any of those who resist.
Meanwhile, U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves (Delroy Lindo) arrests Nat after a standoff in a saloon only to reveal to Nat that Buck has been released, then offers him a chance for revenge.
I have introduced a lot of characters trying hard not to reveal too much of this story. There are many more characters to come. The story becomes suspenseful and exciting. Who, why, and what is up in the air. The harder they Fall has one of the biggest twists in movie history. There’s humor, a whole lot of violence, romance that will keep you guessing and laughing. I loved that Jeymes Samuel, who co-wrote the screenplay with Boaz Yakinm invested in this rare, Black cowboy flick, and the fact that although it’s not a true story, it’s based on real cowboys of the past. Each one with their own story, just not this one. I enjoyed The Harder They Fall and I have no doubt you will too. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 87% of 175 critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 7.5/10. The website’s critics consensus reads: “It isn’t as bold and fearless as its characters, but The Harder They Fall fills its well-worn template with style, energy, and a fantastic cast.” The film started streaming on Netflix, November 3rd, 2021 — Check It Out!