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Harder They Fall, The


Stars: Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, LaKeith Stanfield, Danielle Deadwyler, Deon Cole, R J Cyler, Edi Gathegi, Jacobi Howard, Damon Wayans Jr

Director: Jeymes Samuel

This is a throwback in some ways to the blaxploitation movies of the 1970s, but director Samuel has obviously seen, and loved, Sergio Leone's Italian westerns with Clint Eastwood, - so that this is a black spaghetti western in every retro way, complete with deep psychological undertones (you may not guess the final twist).

So it's all here (and not to be taken at all seriously), as shedloads of defenceless victims are gunned down in a flash, and there are endless wild west goons for the heroes to blast into oblivion with one shot, often conveniently off high buildings and through windows.

Plot takes second place to action, but it begins with a priest and his wife being shot to death by Rufus Black (Elba), who scars their 10-year-old son's forehead with a cross.

Fifteen years pass, and Black has long been incarcerated, while the son, Nat Love (Majors, not ideally cast) has grown up to become the leader of an outlaw gang with a difference - they steal the loot from a gang that has robbed a bank or train, and is run by Black's bowler-hatted right-hand woman (King, enjoying herself).

But when Black escapes (a little improbably) from imprisonment, Nat and his gang set out to bring him down, aided by a trigger-happy kid (Cyler), Nat's top-hatted (kudos to the costume department), saloon-owning gf (Beetz), a nervy rifleman (Gathegi), a veteran marshal (Lindo) and a tomboy gunslinger (Deadwyler). The film seeks to hide the fact that she's a girl, although most of us have guessed it from the start.

There's lots of gun action and a doozy of a fight between Beetz and King, but the film, like some of Leone's own work, is just too darned long. Considering it gathers in the cream of Hollywood's black acting crop, this violent fun really should have been better.

On Netflix

David Quinlan

USA 2021. UK Distributor: Netflix. Colour by Company 3.
139 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 26 Nov 2021