The Harder They Fall

The Harder They Fall

2021, R, 130 min. Directed by Jeymes Samuel. Starring Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, LaKeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, Edi Gathegi, Danielle Deadwyler, Deon Cole.

REVIEWED By Sarah Jane, Fri., Oct. 29, 2021

How is Jonathan Majors not the biggest movie star in the world right now? You can’t take your eyes off him when he’s onscreen. He only appears as He Who Remains/Kang in the series Loki in the last episode but, man, he’s everything. He’s received critical acclaim for his other roles in Lovecraft Country, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, and Da 5 Bloods but if you asked the average person in the street if they knew who Jonathan Majors was, they probably couldn’t tell you. Will The Harder They Fall change that? Let’s bloody hope so.

Like many Westerns, The Harder They Fall is about Revenge, with the capital R. Nat Love (Majors) begins to gather his former posse members back together again when he hears that his rival, Rufus Buck (Elba) is getting out of jail. Members of the Love gang include Stagecoach Mary (Beetz), Jim Beckworth (Cyler), and Bill Pickett (Gathegi). The Buck Gang includes Trudy Smith (King) and Cherokee Bill (Stanfield). As these affairs go, the movie is pretty standard: gather the troops, seek out the enemy, and, finally, battle. While it all looked good and played out in interesting ways, the film did feel a bit draggy in places. I didn’t look at my watch because, well, I don’t wear one, but I did start to wonder how much runtime was left.

In a movie stacked, and I mean stacked, with amazing actors one would think it would be nearly impossible to stand out and yet Majors does. That’s not to say many of the others aren’t great because they are. Regina King? Truly outstanding. Lakeith Stanfield? Terrific. Idris Elba? I mean, it’s Idris Elba, and he shares a showdown scene with Majors that absolutely showcases what tremendous actors both men can be.

It's clear Jeymes Samuel never met a Tarantino movie and/or a spaghetti Western he didn't like. That’s not a slight: I love both, but Samuel throws all that up on the screen. There’s some Sam Raimi, too. Really, there isn’t even space to list every influence recognized (there’s a lot) but it might make a fun drinking game when it drops on Netflix. I bet Samuel had the time of his life making this, 'cos it shows. It’s violent. Holy crap, is it violent. It’s unrelenting. It’s bleak. It’s also entertaining as hell. I like watching people die in old timey gun battles, I just do. The body count is high, but so will your enjoyment be, I think, when you watch this. Samuel and Director of Photography Mihai Malaimare Jr. sure do know how to make a purdy picture. The costumes, by Antoinette Messam, were gorgeous. And shout out to whoever made it so I could hear their leather “creaking” when the actors were moving around. Bless them. Wait, is it just me that likes that sound?

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Jonathan Majors Films
Underground boxing drama pits brother against brother

Nov. 6, 2020

The Last Black Man in San Francisco
A gentle, poetic look at gentrification that shimmers with the winds of history

Marjorie Baumgarten, June 14, 2019

More by Sarah Jane
tick, tick… Boom!
Andrew Garfield is why you'd watch this Rent writer biopic

Nov. 19, 2021

Austin Film Festival Review: <i>The Automat</i>
Austin Film Festival Review: The Automat
Celebrities look back at Horn & Hardart's East Coast diners

Nov. 5, 2021


The Harder They Fall, Jeymes Samuel, Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, LaKeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, Edi Gathegi, Danielle Deadwyler, Deon Cole

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle