Wind River in Wyoming is one of the largest Native American Reservations. In this movie, based on real events, Jeremy Renner plays a wildlife tracker, Cory Lambert. He is a resident of the reservation. He was married to a Native American woman and had two children.
He is friendly with his divorced wife and close to his young son, whom he trains in the skills required to succeed in life on the Reservation. Cory’s daughter was a murder victim recently, and he is still in deep grieving over that.
Cory is a character that is very appealing to us. He is a solid expert at his job and completely familiar with the vast snowbound Reservation which he serves as a guardian of friendly wildlife. Cory always knows what he has to do to meet a goal or to complete a task.
At the start of Wind River, Cory finds the body of a teenage girl who was a friend of his daughter. She is lying half buried in the snow, several miles from any residence. She is scantily clad for the sub-zero climate, with bare feet and she is badly bruised over her body and face.
Cory calls the authorities, starting with the police chief of Wind River, Ben (Graham Greene). State police get involved and then an FBI agent shows up to take charge of the investigation.
That is Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) who is a rookie investigator and is totally unprepared for this beautiful, brutal landscape and climate.
Jane and Cory quickly develop a rapport (but no romance) which helps make progress. She recognizes his expertise in the culture and traditions of the Indians and that he is close friends with many of the families there.
Cory is respected by all the Indians and he reciprocates with respect for them. He is especially close to the dead girl’s father, Martin (Gil Birmingham). The two friends share the grief of a child lost to violence.
The team -- Cory, Jane and Ben -- get involved with groups of contractors who may have the full story about the girl’s death. There are some rough scenes where guns are drawn and fights ensue, but actual shootings only happen in one climactic scene.
There is an element of social commentary in Wind River. The Indian residents do not seem to get the care and respect of outsiders that they rightfully expect.
When Jane meets Martin (the victim’s father), she makes an odd patronizing comment to him. He responds, “Why can’t you start a conversation without an insult?”
The acting here is very good. Graham Greene is effective as the chief who has seen more crime than he cares to. Elizabeth Olsen takes on her role with strength and authority. But I was most impressed with Jeremy Renner. His presence in Wind River gives us a sense of leadership and control, and confidence that we will see a solution.
Wind River is at Harkins Sedona 6 Theater.