The Harder They Fall Review: Netflix’s Best Movie Of The Year Hits Gold

Gunning for revenge, outlaw Nat Love saddles up with his gang to take down enemy Rufus Buck, a ruthless crime boss who just got sprung from prison.  Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, LaKeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, Edi Gathegi, Danielle Deadwyler and Deon Cole star in this action-packed thrill ride that injects New Blood into the Old West. The Harder They Fall is directed by Jeymes Samuel and produced by Shawn ‘Jay Z’ Carter James Lassiter, Jeymes Samuel and Lawrence Bender.

The Harder They Fall Video Review:

The Good:

The Harder They Fall has such an outstanding cast that any one of the characters could legitimately have their own movie. Jonathan Majors was exceptional in his portrayal as Nat Love. He’s the perfect leading man and he nails the “revenge story” motif with ease. Best of all, this film give Majors an opportunity to show off just a glimpse of his vast range as an actor where he can go from humorous to emotional drama on the drop of a dime.

THE HARDER THEY FALL: JONATHAN MAJORS as NAT LOVE in THE HARDER THEY FALL Cr. © DAVID LEE/NETFLIX © 2021

Next to Majors, Idris Elba is sensational as the primary villain in the story. I loved how he demonstrated his “no nonsense” demeanor throughout the film. You could feel the terror that he imposed on everyone around him; thus amplifying threatening impact his character possessed. He was aided by some other great supporting co-stars too. Regina King is a gem, and she also made her character of Trudy Smith into a force to be reckoned with.

I think the most intriguing character in The Harder They Fall was played by LaKeith Stanfield. His role of Cherokee Bill garnered a love/hate connection for me. He’s a villain in the film, but Stanfield’s performance makes him so compelling and layered. One moment you think you don’t like the guy, and the next you’re almost drawn to learning more about him. I would say that out of all the characters in the film, his role probably drew out the most reactions from me given the situations he’s involved in.

The ball doesn’t stop rolling with this line up characters as I’ve got to give props to the legendary Delroy Lindo. He played an even more legendary role of Bass Reeves (who was the first black deputy U.S. marshal west of the Mississippi River). Lindo delivered a well balanced performance that made his character both fascinating and personable.

THE HARDER THEY FALL (C): RJ CYLER as JIM BECKWOURTH in THE HARDER THEY FALL Cr. DAVID LEE/NETFLIX © 2021

Alongside all that star power, RJ Cyler (Jim Beckworth) was a definite scene stealer. He had some of the funniest moments in the film without a doubt. He excelled in many of the scenes that were filled with playful banter and exchanges with other characters. His charisma and style was fascinating. By the end of the film, you can’t help but to feel attached to him in some way.

THE HARDER THEY FALL (L to R) J.T. HOLT as MARYíS GUARD, REGINA KING as TRUDY SMITH, ZAZIE BEETZ as MARY FIELDS, JUSTIN CLARKE as MARYíS GUARD in THE HARDER THEY FALL Cr. DAVID LEE/NETFLIX © 2021

The Harder They Fall is such a captivating film to watch thanks to some unique cinematography. I was really impressed with the attention to detail in how so many of the camera angles never got dull. So many of the scenes would give you a particular vantage point to help elevate whatever was going on in the story. For example, if we’re in the middle of a standoff, the camera would shift to the reflection of one of the people in the barrel of the gun, or maybe the shot is off center and we’re looking at the tall shadows of the characters. In addition to that, there was a great marriage between the cinematography and set design to enhance the tone at a particular moment. You’ll definitely notice this when some of the characters reach the “White Town”.  All of these little things add up to pure entertainment for a visually appealing experience.

THE HARDER THEY FALL: REGINA KING as TRUDY SMITH in THE HARDER THEY FALL Cr. DAVID LEE/NETFLIX © 2021

Just like a true Western, The Harder They Fall isn’t lacking in the action department in the least bit. There is A LOT of violence and, of course, gun fights. The gritty action is a fun ride, but I think the real selling point is all the tension that builds up before all the shooting happens. The level of suspense in this film is through the roof. When you get to the classic quick draw showdowns, you’ll be on the edge of your seat waiting to see who will win out. What I loved the most was that many of the outcomes come as a total shock and are not predictable.

The Bad:

THE HARDER THEY FALL (L to R): JONATHAN MAJORS as NAT LOVE and DAMON WAYANS JR as MONROE GRIMES in THE HARDER THEY FALL Cr. DAVID LEE/NETFLIX © 2021

I think an extremely minor issue some may point to in The Harder They Fall would be in the final act of the film. There’s a pretty dramatic shift from all the extremely tense action to a slower paced exposition. It felt like riding along a high speed chase, and someone suddenly slamming the brakes. The scene does bring out some wonderful acting with the drama sequences, but the transition maybe disappointing for some.

The Verdict:

The Harder They Fall is an instant classic that blends humor, drama and violence all into a Blaxploitation Western. To date, this was easily one of the best films of the year. (Especially on Netflix.) I had a blast watching it and it only left me wanting to see so much more. I don’t care if it’s more prequels or sequels, I’ll take any continuation within this framework and cinematic universe.

THE HARDER THEY FALL (L to R): JONATHAN MAJORS as NAT LOVE and IDRIS ELBA as RUFUS BUCK in THE HARDER THEY FALL Cr. DAVID LEE/NETFLIX © 2021

I was very appreciative of the opening credits of the film as it states that the characters are based on real life people, but the events are purely fictional. Far too often, films may depict real historical events and the changes they make could give off a harmful impression unbeknownst  to audiences. The disclaimer in The Harder They Fall, small as it may be, relieved my mind of any burden of worry about historical accuracy. It gave me the free ticket of escapism to just sit back and enjoy the ride. I think the other bonus is knowing the fact that because these characters are based off real people, there’s some incentive for audiences to go out and look up their real history too. 

THE HARDER THEY FALL (L to R): REGINA KING as TRUDY SMITH, IDRIS ELBA as RUFUS BUCK, LAKEITH STANFIELD as CHEROKEE BILL. CR: DAVID LEE/NETFLIX†© 2021

The Harder They Fall has the same vibe as Django or Kill Bill. I’d be even more bold to say that this was like if Black Panther were made into a Western. It’s unapologetic in depicting the classic Western genre from a Black lens, and I’m here for it. It checks off all the right boxes to me and is totally the worth the watch in either theaters or on Netflix. Go see it as soon as you can.

Director: Jeymes Samuel
Writers: Jeymes Samuel, Boaz Yakin
Stars: Idris Elba, Jonathan Majors, Regina King, Zazie Beetz, LaKeith Stanfield, Delroy Lindo
The Harder They Fall is available in select theaters now and on Netflix November 3, 2021 . Be sure to follow E-Man’s Movie Reviews on Facebook, Subscribe on YouTube, or follow me on Twitter/IG @EmansReviews for even more movie news and reviews!

Comment with Facebook
Overall
9/10
9/10
  • Acting - 8/10
    8/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 9/10
    9/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 8/10
    8/10
  • Setting/Theme - 9/10
    9/10
  • Watchability - 10/10
    10/10
  • Rewatchability - 10/10
    10/10
Sending
User Review
0 (0 votes)

About Emmanuel "E-Man" Noisette

Emmanuel is a Chicago film critic who founded Eman's Movie Reviews. He freelances as a writer and video content creator for sites such as MovieTickets.com. Be sure to join the other 33K+ fans on his Facebook Fan Page for even more movie opinions and fun. Feel free to contact him with any professional inquiries: [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *