The Harder They Fall (2021 film)

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The Harder They Fall
"Promotional release poster": The silhouettes of a group of four people wearing Western-style clothing. Above their heads, to the top right corner of the poster, is the title in a yellow font: "The Harder They Fall".
Promotional release poster
Directed byJeymes Samuel
Screenplay by
Story byJeymes Samuel
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyMihai Mălaimare Jr.
Edited byTom Eagles
Music byJeymes Samuel
Production
company
Distributed byNetflix
Release dates
  • October 6, 2021 (2021-10-06) (BFI)
  • October 22, 2021 (2021-10-22) (United States)
Running time
139 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$90 million
Box office$8,292[1]

The Harder They Fall is a 2021 American Western film directed by Jeymes Samuel, who co-wrote the screenplay with Boaz Yakin. The film stars Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Lakeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, Danielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi, and Deon Cole. It is one of few Westerns whose principal cast members are all Black. Its characters are loosely based on real cowboys, lawmen, and outlaws of the nineteenth-century American West.

The Harder They Fall premiered at the BFI London Film Festival on October 6, 2021.[2] It received a limited release on October 22, 2021, prior to streaming on Netflix on November 3. The film received generally positive reviews for its ensemble cast as well as Samuel's direction and score.

Plot[edit]

11-year-old Nat Love is eating dinner with his parents when Rufus Buck and his associate Cortez arrive. Nat's father begs Buck for forgiveness but Buck guns down Nat's parents and then carves a cross into his forehead.

Twenty years later, Love finds and kills Cortez. Meanwhile, his partners, sharpshooter Bill Pickett and quick draw Jim Beckwourth, ambush the Crimson Hood gang and steal their haul from a recent bank robbery. The lone survivor tells them the $25,000 they have stolen belongs to Buck. Love travels to meet his former lover Mary Fields, who runs a chain of saloons. Pickett brings news of the heist to Love.

Buck's gang, led by Trudy Smith and Cherokee Bill, forcefully free Buck from a train leaving from Yuma Territorial Prison. They reveal Buck has been pardoned, and they have been paid to kill the corrupt U.S. Army soldiers guarding the prison car. After slaughtering the soldiers, Buck and his gang arrive in their former stronghold of Redwood City, now run by Buck's associate, Sheriff Wiley Escoe. Learning that Escoe has used the position to profit at the expense of the town, Buck brutally pistol whips him and orders him to leave town. Buck gathers the townspeople and after killing a naysayer, demands that they raise $50,000 to save Redwood, threatening to kill and burn the property of any who resist.

U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves arrests Love after a standoff in a saloon. However, Reeves reveals to Love that Buck has been released, and he offers him a chance for revenge. Love's gang, accompanied by Fields and her friend and enforcer, Cuffee, arrive and insist on joining. They encounter Escoe, who tells them Buck has returned to Redwood. Fields volunteers to scout Redwood under the cover of offering to buy Smith's saloon. Love proposes marriage to Fields, but she turns him down.

When Fields arrives in Redwood, Smith takes her prisoner and beats her. Love's gang arrives, and Love joins Fields in captivity to save her life. Smith has Love beaten, and he in turn asks Buck to release Fields. Buck demands Love return the money he stole plus $10,000 as 'interest', requiring him to rob a bank in a white town. Love and Cuffee rob the bank without killing anyone and escape. However, the group recognizes that Buck is unlikely to release Fields willingly, so they devise a plan to rig a decoy wagon with dynamite.

They enter Redwood and the decoy wagon is destroyed, killing some of Buck's gang. Love prepares to hand over the money, but Cherokee Bill prepares to shoot him in the back before Beckwourth intervenes, challenging him to a quick draw showdown. Beckwourth challenges Bill to a shoot out, with Bill suggesting a count down from five. As Beckwourth counts down, he is shot and killed by Bill at the count of three (proving indeed that he cheats), causing a gunfight to erupt. Love, Reeves, Pickett, and Cuffee kill most of Buck's gang, and the money is destroyed in another explosion. Escoe infiltrates Buck's house but is killed by Buck, while Pickett and Love are wounded.

Fields is freed by Cuffee and pursues Smith, who she defeats in a hand-to-hand fight. Pickett is shot in the back by Bill, who is subsequently killed by Cuffee in a quick draw confrontation. Love finds Buck, who is unwilling to defend himself. Buck reveals that they are half-brothers, and that their father was once an abusive outlaw who killed his first wife (Buck's mother) when she tried to protect her son. After leaving Buck, their father eventually repented and married another woman and had Nat. He further indicates that driving Love to outlawry was his true act of revenge against their father. Love reluctantly kills Buck and closes his eyes out of respect.

Love and his companions bury Pickett and Beckwourth, alongside another grave marked "Nat Love". Cuffee joins Reeves as a deputy. Cuffee and Reeves ride off in one direction and Love and Fields in another. A woman holding a bowler hat, presumably Trudy Smith, looks at them from a distance.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The film's original working title was The Notorious Nine.[5][6] The film was announced in July 2019, when Jonathan Majors was cast to star in it. Musician Jeymes Samuel co-wrote and directed the film.[7] Idris Elba would join in November, and Jay-Z, who would produce the film, was announced to be writing original music for the film.[8] By September 2020, Zazie Beetz, Lakeith Stanfield, Delroy Lindo and Regina King would be among new cast members added to the film.[9]

Filming had been scheduled to begin in March 2020 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but was delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.[10][11] Cynthia Erivo, Wesley Snipes and Sterling K. Brown, who were initially cast, had to exit due to the delays caused by the pandemic.[12] Filming commenced in September 2020,[13][14] but was paused on October 15 after a background actor tested positive for COVID-19.[15]

Release[edit]

The film had its world premiere at the BFI London Film Festival on October 6, 2021.[16][17] It also screened at the Montclair Film Festival on October 22, 2021.[18] It received a limited release on October 22, 2021, prior to streaming on Netflix on November 3.[19][20]

Music[edit]

An original soundtrack and a film score composed by Jeymes Samuel, were released on October 29, 2021 and January 14, 2022, respectively.

Reception[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 87% of 181 critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 7.5/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "It isn't as bold and fearless as its characters, but The Harder They Fall fills its well-worn template with style, energy, and a fantastic cast."[21] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 68 out of 100 based on 41 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[22]

Accolades[edit]

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
African-American Film Critics Association January 19, 2022 Best Picture The Harder They Fall Won [23]
Best Director Jeymes Samuel Won
Best Ensemble Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Lakeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, Danielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi, Deon Cole Won
Best Music "Guns Go Bang" (Jay-Z, Kid Cudi and Jeymes Samuel) Won
Alliance of Women Film Journalists January, 2022 Best Ensemble Cast Victoria Thomas Nominated [24]
Austin Film Critics Association January 11, 2022 Best Ensemble Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Lakeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, Danielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi, Deon Cole Nominated [25]
Black Reel Awards February 27, 2022 Outstanding Film The Harder They Fall Nominated [26]
Outstanding Director Jeymes Samuel Won
Outstanding Actor Jonathan Majors Nominated
Outstanding Actress Zazie Beetz Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor LaKeith Stanfield Nominated
Idris Elba Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress Regina King Nominated
Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Male Deon Cole Nominated
Edi Gathegi Nominated
Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Female Danielle Deadwyler Nominated
Outstanding Ensemble, Casting Director Victoria Thomas Won
Outstanding Screenplay, Adapted or Original Jeymes Samuel and Boaz Yakin Nominated
Outstanding Emerging Director Jeymes Samuel Won
Outstanding Original Score Won
Outstanding Editing Tom Eagles Won
Outstanding Cinematography Mihai Malaimare Jr. Nominated
Outstanding Costume Design Antoinette Messam Won
Outstanding Production Design Martin Whist Nominated
Outstanding Original Song "Guns Go Bang" (Jay-Z, Kid Cudi and Jeymes Samuel) Nominated
"The Harder They Fall" (Jay-Z, Koffee and Jeymes Samuel) Nominated
Critics' Choice Movie Awards March 13, 2022 Best Acting Ensemble Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Lakeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, Danielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi, Deon Cole Nominated [27]
Best Song "Guns Go Bang" (Jay-Z, Kid Cudi and Jeymes Samuel) Nominated
Critics' Choice Super Awards March 17, 2022 Best Action Movie The Harder They Fall Nominated [28]
Best Actor in an Action Movie Jonathan Majors Nominated
Best Actress in an Action Movie Regina King Nominated
Best Villain in a Movie Idris Elba Nominated
Denver Film Festival November 4, 2021 Best Original Score Jeymes Samuel Nominated [29]
Best Original Song "Guns Go Bang" (Jay-Z, Kid Cudi and Jeymes Samuel) Nominated
Detroit Film Critics Society December 6, 2021 Best Ensemble Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Lakeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, Danielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi, Deon Cole Nominated [30]
Best Screenplay Jeymes Samuel and Boaz Yakin Nominated
Georgia Film Critics Association January 14, 2022 Best Original Score Jeymes Samuel Nominated
Best Original Song "Guns Go Bang" (Jay-Z, Kid Cudi and Jeymes Samuel) Nominated
Gotham Awards November 29, 2021 Ensemble Tribute Award Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Lakeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, Danielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi, Deon Cole Won [31]
Hollywood Critics Association Awards February 28, 2022[32] Best Action Film The Harder They Fall Won [33]
Best Cast Ensemble Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Lakeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, Danielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi, Deon Cole Nominated
Hollywood Music in Media Awards November 17, 2021 Best Original Song in a Feature Film "Guns Go Bang" (Jay-Z, Kid Cudi and Jeymes Samuel) Nominated [34]
Houston Film Critics Society February 19, 2022 Best Original Score Jeymes Samuel Nominated [35]
Best Original Song "Guns Go Bang" (Jay-Z, Kid Cudi and Jeymes Samuel) Nominated
NAACP Image Awards February 26, 2022 Outstanding Motion Picture The Harder They Fall Won [36]
Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture Jonathan Majors Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Delroy Lindo Nominated
Idris Elba Nominated
LaKeith Stanfield Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Danielle Deadwyler Nominated
Regina King Won
Outstanding Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Lakeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, Danielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi, Deon Cole Won
Outstanding Breakthrough Creative in a Motion Picture Jeymes Samuel Won
Outstanding Soundtrack/Compilation Album The Harder They Fall Soundtrack (Jay-Z and Jeymes Samuel) Won
National Board of Review Awards December 2, 2021 Best Cast Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Lakeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, Danielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi, Deon Cole Won [37]
San Diego Film Critics Society January 10, 2022 Best Performance by an Ensemble Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Lakeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, Danielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi, Deon Cole Nominated [38]
Best Costumes Antoinette Messam Nominated
Satellite Awards April 2, 2022 Best Original Score Jeymes Samuel Nominated [39]
Best Sound (Editing & Mixing) Ron Bartlett, Clint Bennett, Doug Hemphill, Richard King, Anthony Ortiz Nominated
Seattle Film Critics Society January 17, 2022 Best Villain Idris Elba Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards December 6, 2021 Best Ensemble Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Lakeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, Danielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi, Deon Cole Nominated [40]
Women Film Critics Circle December 11, 2021 Invisible Woman Award Danielle Deadwyler Won [41]
Best Equality of the Sexes The Harder They Fall Nominated

References[edit]

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External links[edit]