If you know anything about my taste in movies, you know that Westerns just aren't my thing. I'm not really sure why, I've just never been a big fan. So when it came time to see Hostiles, I was not, shall we say, psyched. Without Movie Pass, this movie definitely would not have been on my list of ones to see. But it is Joel's kind of movie, and we do have Movie Pass, so off we went.
The movie opens on a lovely family working on their homestead in the middle of nowhere. The mother is teaching her two daughters about adverbs, while the newborn son lies in a cradle. The father is outside sawing wood for a nearby structure he is building. Suddenly the peaceful scene is interrupted by, well, hostiles, coming in to steal their horses. They live up to the name of hostile as they do much worse than just theft, and thus the movie starts with violence, terror and heartbreak, a harbinger of what is to come.
From there we cut to the story of Captain Joseph Blocker, played by Christian Bale. He is a tough man, hardened by years in the army on the western front. He is tasked with escorting a Cheyenne family from their prison in Arizona (where he put them) back to their reservation in Montana. Captain Blocker has no intention of doing this, following orders only when his pension is threatened. So the crew sets out, the old and dying Cheyenne chief and his small family, the Captain and a few of his best men. Along the way they pick up the remainder of the family from the opening story. From there we see the group face all the challenges that come with traversing difficult terrain, facing violent enemies in hostile territory, and learning more about each other along the way.
I did appreciate that there was character growth in this story. It wasn't just about violence and guns and bows and arrows. But it was a lot about that, and there were many scenes I "watched' through closed fingers (I can't watch a lot of violence). Overall I do think the story was worth telling, though for me, it's one I probably would have preferred to read than watch. If you're a fan of westerns, you will probably enjoy!