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Wind River

After a native american woman mysteriously dies in wyoming reservation land, an FBI agent and a local hunter tries to solve the crime.

This is a prime example of how to effectively get your point across to the audience without being preachy and without loosing the entertainment value of a movie. So the movie starts with following the day to day routine of local hunter, Jeremy renner. He is hired to protect livestock from predators. Therefore due to the nature of his job he is very good at tracking on snow. While tracking for mountain lions that killed cattle, he stumbles upon the dead body of his late daughter's female friend and that leads to a female rookie FBI agent being sent to the reservation to investigate. She seeks the help of jeremy renner to solve the crime as she is new to the area.

There are lot of things this movie gets right. Firstly, the movie does have a fish out of water storyline in it. Elizabeth Olsen, the FBI agent is a fish out of water but the somber tone of the movie doesn't allow for elaborating that aspect of the movie and it works in its favor. The pairing of renner and olsen is very good. In a snowy landscape like reservations in wyoming, its very hard to have a very intricate thriller. Because you are not really looking for needle in a haystack or a hannibal lecter type genius killer because the number of suspects are very low and most of them are dumb. So the director must have something else to tell besides the crime and this director does. The dire conditions of the native american reservations and how they are left behind by government is covered over the course of the criminal investigation. The police force is very small, which severely hinders the investigation. Indians are given the land but it doesn't have opportunities. So either they have to live in remote locations without any career prospects or move to cities. It like given a piece of land where nothing grows. Most of all, the remote locations and the frontier every man for himself culture that these kind of places abide by are covered very well in the movie. It also shows how oil companies take out the natural resources from these places without sharing any of the profits with the locals who own the land. There is a grief plotline involving renner and his daughter,who is also killed like the native american woman under mysterious circumstances and her case remains unsolved. It done pretty well.

So, getting back to the plot, the case takes a dramatic turn when the police also find the body of a man who happens to be the woman's boyfriend in the woods. Once they learn that he worked at the oil drilling facility in the reservation. FBI officer and local police decide to pay a visit to see if the security camera has any footage that might help them solve the crime. There are two ways of getting there, one is a shortcut via woods and snowmobile and other is long road. Jeremy renner decides to take the shortcut whereas others take the road. On his way to the drilling center, renner has to pass the location where the boyfriend body was found and he notices snowmobile tracks leading to the oil rigging quarters. what !!!!

In order to discuss the climax, I need to spoil the mystery in the movie. So here it goes. The "how" part of the mystery in the movie is, the boyfriend who works at the oil drilling company invites her to his living quarters. The oil worker's life in that quarters is pretty cut and dry. They are a small team of 5 people since everything is automated. They live in the middle of nowhere. They rarely see any women. They have no fun. So when his coworkers enter the living quarters drunk and notice a woman, they try to rape her and when the boyfriend intervenes, they kill him. The woman manages to escape but without proper snow protection in sub zero weather, she dies few miles away from the quarters. The coworkers are too drunk to chase her. They also dump the dead body of the boyfriend who refused to let his girlfriend be raped by them.

The climax basically involves a shootout between the unassuming local police and FBI agent entering the facility and the workers who raped and killed the woman and her boyfriend. Its a tense scene because, firstly the whole facility is a private property and is outside the jurisdiction of reservation police. So the oil company doesn't want anything to do with the reservation. The people who work there come from somewhere else and they are also the security personnel of the area and are heavily armored. The moment the investigation lead the police to the facility the workers decide to kill the whole group and thats how a shootout occurs. Luckily Renner, an expert marksman figures out who they are before the rest of the team, shots them with a high powered sniper and kills the bad guys and saves the FBI agent. The one bad guy who manages to escape into the woods is forced by renner to run barefoot on snow in subzero temperatures in the middle of nowhere where he dies just like the indian woman.

It's not just that they are bad guys. The climax highlights and opens a can of worms that points out lot of different things. Firstly, they thought they could kill the woman and her boyfriend and get away with it because its a reservation in the middle of nowhere and generally government doesn't care about reservations. Moreover native american woman murder statics are not kept by government agencies apparently. This kind of the points to a supposed negligence on part of government towards crimes against native americans especially sex crimes against the women. It also shows that there is a real possibility that if the bad guys were able to kill police, FBI agent and the local police and bury them without a trace, they might not be caught because no one cares what happens there and since they are oil employees, company might interfere and steer them away from ever looking into their employees and the murder could have remain unsolved. The movie also highlights how inefficient and archaic, the whole law enforcement and the resources available to them are.They have to send samples collected from dead body to a facility somewhere else where it takes 6 weeks to get results. Even the presence of a single rookie FBI agent there shows just how unimportant it is for the FBI to solve the case. So I would say it is one of the perfect blends of entertainment and social message in a movie in the past decade.