The Harder They Fall Parent Guide
A polished, action-packed take on the genre, this movie boasts solid acting and a standout soundtrack. But it also comes with bloody violence and over 50 swear words.
Parent Movie Review
Outlaw Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) has been on the hunt for revenge since his parents were brutally murdered in front of him as a child, and he’s just slain the last of their killers – or at least the ones he can reach. The man who pulled the trigger, Rufus Buck (Idris Elba) is serving a life sentence in Yuma, and Nat is content to let him rot in his cell. His plans now revolve around trying to win back the love of his life, “Stagecoach” Mary Fields (Zazie Beetz)…but before he can even get started, word reaches him that Rufus Buck has been pardoned, released from prison, and is rebuilding his murderous gang. With the help of Stagecoach Mary, legendary federal marshal Bass Reeves (Delroy Lindo), and friends Jim Beckwourth (RJ Cyler) and Bill Pickett (Edi Gathegi), Nat Love is out for trouble…unless trouble finds him first.
As Jeymes Samuel’s directorial debut, this film certainly presents a flair for the dramatic which I expected from the musician/filmmaker. I’m most familiar with his work as the Executive Music Consultant for Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, and you can certainly see the similarities between these two films. Bold, occasionally garish colors, stylized set design, and dramatic dialogue all combine to make the Old West into a larger-than-life stage. Thankfully, the film backs up that intense style with solid characters. While they bear little resemblance to the lives of their real-world counterparts, they are well cast and impeccably performed by an all-star cast.
My gripes (apart from my typical historical nitpicking) are largely to do with the film’s focus. I feel that there’s a stronger, more emotional story somewhere in here that’s been at least partially buried by the stylization. Sometimes the two manage to work together, as is the case with the final shootout or the train sequence, but other times it just feels like the movie is trying to do too much at once. It also, in my opinion, has some issues balancing the story with the music. Now, given the proclivities of the director, I believe this is very much how he wanted the film to be, but for the average audience, it may seem a little heavy on the music and a little light on the story from time to time.
Aside from those (debatable) missteps, I think this is a polished, enjoyable, action-packed take on the genre, which could be much worth watching for those who can handle the content. Graphic bloody violence and frequent profanity are the primary issues, with surprisingly little sexual content or innuendo, and average amounts of social drinking and smoking, considering the setting. This isn’t a movie for children, but older teens and adult genre fans should have a look at how the West was once…or at least, how Jeymes Samuel thinks it could have been.Directed by Jeymes Samuel. Starring Idris Elba, Jonathan Majors, Regina King, LaKeith Stanfield, . Running time: 130 minutes. Theatrical release November 3, 2021. Updated November 4, 2021
Watch the trailer for The Harder They Fall
The Harder They Fall
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Harder They Fall rated R? The Harder They Fall is rated R by the MPAA for strong violence and language
Violence: People are repeatedly shot, stabbed, slashed, beaten, blown up, and in one instance, killed with a hammer. One scene shows a child being deliberately cut with a razor.
Sexual Content: A couple are shown kissing passionately. There are some brief sexual references.
Profanity: There are 27 uses of sexual expletives, 23 uses of scatological cursing, and infrequent uses of mild profanities and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are seen drinking socially and smoking tobacco.
Page last updated November 4, 2021
The Harder They Fall Parents' GuideThe history of the Old West is frequently limited to the activities of white outlaws and lawmen, but many cowboys were either African-American or Hispanic. Why is that part of history not taught? Who are some notable historical figures from that period who are also people of color? This film draws characters from real historical people, but the events are fictionalized. How accurate are these portrayals? Why bother to use historical names and people if they aren’t going to be accurately represented?
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Other Westerns with a focus on black cowboys include Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight and Django Unchained, as well as Civil War pieces like Glory and Buffalo Soldiers. A more modern take on the genre, Concrete Cowboy, also stars Idris Elba. Famed Canadian cowboy John Ware is the subject of the documentary John Ware Reclaimed. A comedic take on race in the Old West can be found in Mel Brooks’ film Blazing Saddles. Danny Glover appears as a deadly sharpshooter in Silverado. Contemporary takes on the Western genre can also be found in films like 3:10 to Yuma, Hostiles, The Magnificent Seven (2016), True Grit (2010), and News of the World.