2021 has been a pretty stacked year for the Western (like the Angelina Jolie vehicle Those Who Wish Me Dead, Clint Eastwood’s Cry Macho, and the upcoming The Power of the Dog), but nothing that’s come out so far gives the same visceral thrill as the new trailer for The Harder They Fall, a star-studded shoot ‘em up inspired in part by real-life cowboy Nat Love and the infamous Rufus Buck Gang. Directed by Jeymes Samuel (also known as a musician under the name The Bullitts, most notable for collaborating closely with Jay Electronica) the film stars Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Lakeith Stanfield, and Regina King.
We’re thrust into the action right away, as the trailer opens mid-train heist with Trudy Smith (King) freeing Rufus Buck (Elba), who immediately dons the kind of black hat that classically connotes villains in Westerns. From there, we meet Nat Love (Majors), an outlaw on the hunt for Buck who happens to have a cross carved into his face that’s reminiscent of 21 Savage’s famous forehead knife tattoo. Beetz plays Stagecoach Mary, the first Black woman mail carrier famed for her shooting ability and having “the temperament of a grizzly bear.” Lakeith Stanfield plays a version of murderous outlaw Cherokee Bill, while Delroy Lindo appears as Bass Reeves, “the first black deputy U.S. marshal west of the Mississippi.” (Reeves was also portrayed in HBO’s Watchmen series in 2019).
“It’s high-octane. We’re galloping, we’re shooting. We’re running. We called it ‘The New West’ on set,” Majors told Complex in October 2020. “It’s the frontier that no one’s seen before.” Samuel, who told Shadow and Act he grew up a huge fan of Westerns, said that he always wanted them to do more to explore the lives of characters who aren’t white men.
“I just grew up wanting to know more about people of color and women and all of these ideas of the Old West that I was not getting from the Hollywood movies,” he said. “And so I would just buy books and would…uncover amazing characters–both heroes and villains, both men and women of all colors.”
The trailer also gives us a glimpse at a new Jay-Z and Kid Cudi collaboration, which plays halfway through with the latter crooning what may be the song’s title, “My guns go bang.” The track sees Jay getting back in his biblical bag a la past songs like “Lucifer” and “Heaven,” though the lyrics are a little tough to make out over the constant clatter of bullets. The two have previously worked together: Cudi appears on Jay’s Blueprint 3 standout “Already Home,” his vocals are all throughout Watch the Throne, plus there’s an unreleased remix of “Wild’n Cuz I’m Young” Cudi still hopes to put out one day.
Jay, who has long maintained a close friendship with Samuel, serves as one of the film’s producers. With an October 22 release date, we won’t have to wait long for The Harder They Fall to come guns blazing to our screens.