Criticism: Criticism of “The Harder They Fall”, a western by Jeymes Samuel with Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz and Delroy Lindo (Netflix)

Valuable and entertaining recovery of a dying genre in the service of a cast of black stars.

The harder will be the fall (The Harder They Fall, United States / 2021). Direction and music: Jeymes Samuel. Cast: Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Delroy Lindo, LaKeith Stanfield, Regina King, Danielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi, RJ Cyler, Damon Wayans Jr., and Deon Cole. Screenplay: Jeymes Samuel and Boaz Yakin. Photography: Mihai Malaimare. Edition: Tom Eagles. Duration: 130 minutes. Available on Netflix from Wednesday 3/11.

Among the producers of The harder will be the fall there are the English Jeymes Samuel, the popular rapper Jay-Z and Lawrence Bender. That Samuel appears is understandable, since he is also a director and co-writer with Boaz Yakin; Jay-Z appears has its logic, since Samuel directed several of his video clips; and that Bender has joined also has its explanation: we are facing a decidedly Tarantinian western (with elements and references to Ford, Hawks and Leone) and Bender has produced since Street dogs and Violent times until Jackie Brown: Triple Betrayal, going through the saga of Kill Bill and Inglorious Bastards.

The harder will be the fall It is an epic, bloody and hyperstilized revenge western that has as its main characteristics not only its revisionist view of the genre but also 99 percent of black characters, several of them played by renowned African-American figures. It is not a whim of Samuel (who in 2013 had already filmed another western as They Die by Dawn), since several of those protagonists really existed, although -of course- the story that is told here in the somewhat excessive 130 minutes is largely the product of fiction.

The film opens with a heartbreaking, sadistic, nothing short of intolerable scene with a boy witnessing both of his parents being killed inside their home. That violence in principle gratuitous will have its reason for being and will be the beginning of an enigma that will be solved on the closure. The rest is pure western: an ambush in the middle of the mountains in which hooded men take the spoils of the rival gang, the taking of a train full of soldiers, the robbery of a bank in a white town, stagecoaches, canteens and -Of course- a long final duel. All with an imposing and proudly anachronistic background soundtrack -produced by Jay-Z-, which includes songs from hip hop, soul and reggae (included below).

For this clear bet to improve the much-mentioned diversity and representation, Samuel got an all-star cast with black stars such as Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Delroy Lindo, LaKeith Stanfield and Regina King as outlaws of arms to take. Someone may look at this project – and Netflix’s decision to keep the film – with some suspicion for its opportunism, but the important thing here is that the performances are remarkable, the scenes are very well filmed and the artists manage to revive with nobility and talent, with blood and fire, but also with a welcome dose of humor, a dying genre. The rest we leave to the exegetes of political correctness.


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