The film follows a United States soldier named Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale), a veteran of the American Indian Wars who, despite a firm belief in God, also harbors a worn cynicism about the world. Block despises the Native Americans and resents his latest orders: To escort a dying chief, Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi), and his family to their homeland.
Along the way, Blocker and his band rescue Rosalie Quaid (Rosamund Pike). After a local tribe raided her farm, killing her family, Quaid has an intense fear of Native Americans. The uneasy group must tamp down on their mutual dislike as they move into unfriendly lands, dealing with threats both outside their group and within.
Cooper has a history of directing films about complicated men; his previous works include Crazy Heart, which followed an alcoholic musician, and Black Mass, a film about the mobster “Whitey” Bulger.
Hostiles looks to be a harrowing tale, rife with violence and spiritual conflict. It also looks beautiful. Cooper reunited with Black Mass cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi and, based on the trailer, they look to have captured the sweeping majesty and ferocity of the West.
Early reviews indicate that Hostiles is both a grim adventure story and a superb character study. Bale’s Blocker is no mere brute; he is an intelligent warrior-poet, hardened by years of violence, who reveals new layers as the story progresses.
There is no word yet on which studio will distribute Hostiles, according to Variety. Given the rave reviews so far, however, it seems likely that major players will try to pick up the film, which could even garner some recognition at the Oscars.