Wind River

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Wind River Movie Poster Image
Extremely violent but smart, solid crime movie.
  • R
  • 2017
  • 107 minutes

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 6 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

In the movie's world, it feels like the will to survive is more important than anything else. Justice is served as revenge, coldly. There's also the message that -- unlike any other cultural group in the country -- Native American women who go missing aren't counted; no one keeps track of them. The movie is clearly outraged by this and tries to put a compassionate, human face on the problem.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jane is a strong, resourceful female character; she begins the story a little clueless and unprepared but rises to the occasion before the end. While positive/realistic Native American characters are featured, the movie is also telling a Native American story with white main characters, which poses representation questions.


Brutal rape of an 18-year-old woman. Bloody, brutal fight sequence with bludgeoning, punching, etc. Lots of blood shown. Strong, brutal shootout sequence, with many characters shot and killed and the accompanying blood spurts. Characters are hit with blunt objects. A wolf is shot and killed, with blood spraying. Gory dead bodies. Characters die from blood-filled lungs (an occurrence in extreme cold). A grieving woman cuts herself on her arm and hand. A young boy carries a gun; his father teaches him how to handle it properly.


A couple kisses tenderly and is shown lying in bed together. Sex is implied and mentioned. Characters are shown wearing underwear.


Many, many uses of "f--k" and "a--hole" during certain sequences. Also "motherf----r," "s--t," "bulls---," "ass," "goddamn," "Jesus F---ing Christ," etc.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Secondary characters are shown dangerously, abusively drunk in one scene. Cigarette smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Wind River is a very violent crime/murder story set on a Native American reservation in Wyoming. There's a brutal rape scene, plus fighting, beating, and bludgeoning, lots of guns/shooting, gory dead bodies, and plenty of blood. A wolf is also shot and killed. Language is very strong in certain scenes, with many uses of "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and more. Secondary characters are shown dangerously, abusively drunk in one scene, and some characters smoke cigarettes. In one scene, a man and a woman kiss passionately and lie in bed together; sex is implied and mentioned. A few characters are scantily clad, but no actual nudity is shown. While some may raise eyebrows at a Native American story being told with white main characters (including Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen), the movie does make a point of sending a message about the shameful fact that -- unlike women in any other culture -- Native American women who go missing aren't tracked or counted. The movie marks the directorial debut of Taylor Sheridan, who wrote Sicario and Hell or High Water, and it's another smart, solid, but very mature story.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCultClassic Reviews March 31, 2019

This movie isn't a thriller.

If you have experience with grief, then this film will either be profoundly impactful or seriously disturbing to watch. To reiterate the title of this review: W... Continue reading
Adult Written bydfilmpro June 18, 2019

Terrible story to tell.

This is an awful story to spend time on. Yes it's very well done Directing and acting but I would not recommend to adults, let alone kids. Akin to watchi... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bySammi Plate December 2, 2017


Hard to watch very heavy and had rape and beating. I suggest that younger children do not watch this movie because it is disturbing and hard to understand.
Teen, 17 years old Written byreviewer222 November 13, 2020

A Truly Powerful Film, I Highly Recommend It

Let me start off by saying I would strongly recommend watching this movie. This is one of the most enticing films I have watched and has a very influential effe... Continue reading

What's the story?

In WIND RIVER, Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) works in the freezing mountains of Wyoming as a tracker and hunter, stopping wild animals from killing livestock. On a nearby Native American reservation, he discovers the body of a teen girl. An FBI agent, Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen), is called in, and it's determined that the girl was raped and then tried to run, barefoot, across the freezing snow. Working with the local sheriff, Ben (Graham Greene), Lambert and Banner try to figure out what happened. At first, events point toward the girl's boyfriend, but things aren't as they seem. At the same time, Lambert deals with the loss of his own daughter, and his relationship with his Native American ex-wife and their young son, as well as his friendship with the dead girl's father, Martin (Gil Birmingham).

Is it any good?

Actor-turned-screenwriter Taylor Sheridan makes his directorial debut with this smart, solid crime movie that, while not without its flaws, makes excellent use of open spaces and haunting quiet. Sheridan wrote two of cinema's sharpest recent crime stories, Sicario and Hell or High Water; he now adds Wind River to that list. All three films are set in lawless communities, like modern-day Westerns; this one uses its snowbound Wyoming passages to suggest that, if the characters go poking near danger, no one is coming to the rescue. A haunting score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis helps set the tone.

The characters' restrained, stoic nature can make Wind River feel like it has skipped over certain details, simply because some things aren't discussed, but it's easy to forgive a movie that favors mood over chatty dialogue. Wind River gets into controversial territory by telling a Native American story with two white leads, but at least it's a well-told, intelligent, and respectful story, and the characters are interesting in and of themselves. They don't feel obligatory. And, as with his last two movies, Sheridan has something to say about the world here -- and he says it with compassion and without preaching.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Wind River's violence. What's the effect of the brutal, shocking scenes? Are they necessary to the story? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • How does the movie portray drinking? Does it look cool or fun? Are there realistic consequences? Why does that matter?

  • Did watching this movie raise any questions of representation for you? Is it appropriate to tell this story with white lead characters? Why or why not?

  • A character explains that luck doesn't exist out in the country, that everything depends on struggle to survive. Do you agree?

  • How did the closing message about missing Native American women make you feel? Were you aware of the situation?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

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