The Daily Stream: Don't Let The Harder They Fall Get Lost In The Netflix Shuffle

(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they've been watching, why it's worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The Movie: "The Harder They Fall"

Where You Can Stream It: Netflix

The Pitch: "The Harder They Fall" is a rip-roaring revenge Western that puts two gangs of outlaws on a collision course in an all-Black town. It taps into the tales of the Old West that Hollywood has left untold, emancipating them from their chain-gang stripes and delivering a headshot to the racist conductor of the whole Easter-egg train.

The film begins with the bracing reminder, "While the events of this story are fictional... These. People. Existed." It's not just Bass Reeves (Delroy Lindo), the deputy U.S. Marshall that benighted viewers such as myself learned about for the first time (while also learning about the Tulsa Race Massacre) in HBO's "Watchmen." It's also Black cowboys and cowgirls like Nat Love (Jonathan Majors), Rufus Buck (Idris Elba), Stagecoach Mary (Zazie Beetz), and Cherokee Bill (Lakeith Stanfield), all of whom were real historical figures.

"The Harder They Fall" brings back Regina Hall and Danielle Deadwyler from "Watchmen" and it reunites Majors and Lindo from Spike Lee's "Da Five Bloods." RJ Cyler and Edi Gathegi co-star as members of Nat Love's gang. All of these actors hold the screen with a magnetism that is only further heightened by the musical and visual verve that director and co-writer Jeymes Samuel brings to the table.

Why It's Essential Viewing

"The Harder They Fall" offers a bloody good time (emphasis on bloody, since not everyone survives the gunplay) and its characters have charisma to spare. Majors has been gaining visibility on TV with shows like "Lovecraft Country" and Marvel's "Loki," but "The Harder They Fall" proves he is every bit the movie star. This is one of the most thoroughly entertaining, well-crafted films released so far in 2021.

The reggae-infused soundtrack and artful cinematography and production design all work in tandem to make for a breezy 139 minutes. Shawn Carter, better known as Jay-Z, co-produced the movie, which began as a short film tied to Samuels' own recording career as The Bullitts. Samuels also recruited Mihai Malaimare Jr., the director of photography for Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master."

With critically acclaimed films like this, "Old Henry," and "The Power of the Dog," the Western appears to be making a comeback this year. However, if you look at the history of the genre, with its John Waynes and its Clint Eastwoods, it's as whitewashed as the "white town" where one gang in "The Harder They Fall" pulls off a daring daylight bank robbery.

When /Film's Shania Russell interviewed Samuels, Majors, and Beetz, they all talked about the idea of the "New West" and what it represents. Suffice to say, "The Harder They Fall" is the Western that "Django Unchained" wanted to be but couldn't, simply because it was too enamored of its Oscar-winning white savior, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz).

I'm not going to hang around at length whitesplaining this movie. Just do yourself a favor and go watch it.