The Harder They Fall [Grade: 95%]

Director: Jeymes Samuel

Story By: Jeymes Samuel and Boaz Yakin

Cast: Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Regina King, LaKeith Stanfield, Zazie Beetz, Delroy Lindo, RJ Cyler, Danielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi, & Deon Cole

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When was the last time you saw an all Black western? I went into this film expecting something more violently sentimental—like most films are when you mix men and guns. But I got something totally different, and I was thoroughly entertained.

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Below are my grades for key components in #TheHarderTheyFall that I find to be key in any story/film/series—Theme, Plot, Pacing, and Character (pertaining to arc/development &/or delivery). FYI: My A=95, A- =90, B=85, B-=80…etc. My D- =60 and my F=50

Additionally, I have added an entertainment factor scale to help you determine whether or not the film is something you’d be interested in taking time out of your weekend, evening, or day to watch. The scale range consists of: Worth the Watch/$$$, Interesting Enough (if looking for something new to start, OR experience is intentionally relevant to the genre and executed well–nothing more), Wait for Streaming, Don’t Rush, & Don’t Watch.

I have also added a few non-spoiling thoughts, wonderings, and comments as I watched the film to help give some rationale for my grades and entertainment scale.

* * *

Theme: A

Plot & Story: A

Pacing: A

Character Arc/Development: A

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Entertainment Factors

General Public: Worth the Watch/$$$

Film Enthusiasts: Worth the Watch/$$$

Experience Seekers (via Visuals & Score): Interesting Enough

Western Film Fans: Worth the Watch/$$$

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1. The way I cheesed in my seat when LaKeith hit the screen. I just really love him (professionally and lustfully). 😩🙌🏾😍

2. The film’s messaging is very clear from jump to be focused on “vengeance,” but also the relationship/struggle people [can] have with vengeance and their/our emotional connections to people.

Act One wastes no time setting up the means for (and first visual of) vengeance while also giving us our protagonist’s first layer of emotional connection and the impact of this need for revenge on that connection; all before impacting that connection again.

Act Two primarily sets up our antagonist where we also see he and his gang are also on a road for revenge that was set in motion in Act One, while our protagonist is balancing his emotional connection while preparing for revenge.

Act Three brings the both sides of revenge face to face in that old wild Wild West fashion with a crazy twist that adds a different layer to the protagonists emotional connection. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

3. RJ Cyler understood the assignment! He was a kee! I just loved him! 😂👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

4. Now I will say I was a little annoyed with the accent consistency…well, mainly via LaKeith. In some shots, it worked, but in others it was so apparent. 🥴

5. The pacing not only moves extremely well, but also feels fun and consistently engaging. There’s never a moment of dead space on screen. I think this is due to Samuel giving intentional time and focus to BOTH stories (the protagonist and antagonist) which I appreciated. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

6. The roundness of Nat Love as a character was so clear, and I found his arc to be a solid example of utilizing the theme to steer our protagonist through the story. I believe this was due to that emotional connection aspect of the messaging.

Majors does a fantastic job delivering a character who is committed to the mission, fearlessly engaging because of confidence, but also human. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

7. The “Everybody but him…” moment! 🤭🙌🏾

8. Um…Idris was ZADDY! Yesss! 🤤😍

9. Baby listen! Regina and Zazie! 🙌🏾🙌🏾

10. The Harder They Fall is a story about a man who thinks he has reached the end of his revenge tour only to find out that there’s still one key player left which means his work isn’t done.

Usually I would just give a brief overview of each Act to show the follow through of the plot, or sometimes the lack of… BUT, because of how clear and consistent the theme was, you can actually just refer back to my theme breakdown—just a great marriage of the two elements. 👍🏾👍🏾

11. BONUS: Maysville and Danielle’s character! 😂👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

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Overall #TheHarderTheyFall gives Harlem Nights – meets Gangs of New York – meets Colombiana – meets The Magnificent Seven – meets Thanos in Infinity Wars.

The opening credits came on after the first 5-7 minutes of setting the story in motion, and at that moment I was in my chair just smiling and ready to literally cry because I was filled with so much appreciation and excitement for what this film was about to be for me. I really wish the theater was sold out because I haven’t had a feeling like this since Black Panther, and this feeling remained throughout my entire movie experience.

Now, a few random shout outs– the MUSIC! Just… YES!

The casting! My goodness the casting! It was as if I could feel the good vibes and chemistry from the screen. I just know they had a fun and amazing time on set working together.

And lastly, there was a shot where the camera zoomed in from behind Idris standing in a window to close up on Jonathan Majors who was on a horse at the other end of the town, and I was like, “DAMN. That was so nice!”

I have never heard of Jeymes Samuel until this film, but I am so ready to see him take off. I don’t know if this is even good to say, but I had a moment where I was like, “this is ‘our’ Quentin Tarantino.”

This. Film. Was. Great. And I see definitely see some award nominations headed its way.

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