After the Civil War, a former slave disguises himself as a man to join the Union Army and search for her American dream. Her plans are interrupted when she’s trapped in the desolate wilderness guarding a notorious bank robber. surround Letitia Wright stars in a gritty western that tackles racial and gender inequality with a salvo of bullets. The protagonist discovers an unexpected kinship in a vicious murderer who sees through her appearance. Excellent cinematography and rich character development add texture to a bland but engaging narrative.
Moses Washington (Wright) prays in a church built in 1870 on the edge of the western frontier. She stashes her most prized possession in a battered bible. Mo was awarded title deeds to a gold mine in Colorado. This is a precious prize after she discharged with honors. She pretends to be a man by hiding her feminine features under loose clothing. Mo kept her revolver handy just in case. No one in town knows her secret.
Mo initially had trouble riding a stagecoach. Miss Borders (Augusta Allen-Jones) is uncomfortable sitting with a black man. The devious Mr. Fields (Brett Gelman) won’t tolerate Mo having a gun. Wheeler (Jeffrey Donovan) has the power to squash any dissent. As long as “he” handed over his weapon, Mo could sit outside in the back seat. Embarrassment and discomfort are nothing new. Mo is obliged to crawl to the back.
Gunslinger Letitia Wright
They didn’t get far before trouble struck. Tommy Walsh (Jamie Bell) and his gang ambushed the coach. Mo covered himself to avoid detection as they robbed other passengers. A firefight ensued, startling the horses. Mo jumped from the wagon when it crashed. When she finds a gun and proves her skills, the scene is bloody. Wheeler escapes and races to find backup. Mo grabs Tommy, but her problems are just beginning. He’s a wanted man with a fortune hidden in stolen loot. Tommy recognized Mo as a woman. If Tommy escapes, she must hold him until rescue returns or face hanging. Tommy’s gang and bounty hunters are on their way to find them, and it won’t be easy.
Wright doesn’t say much in the first act. This is by design, as a strategy to go unnoticed. Don’t want anyone to get too close. She deliberately avoided confrontation. Her submissiveness and skin color provide ample camouflage for prejudiced people. As a black man, she is inferior to a man, but as a woman, she is even more so. Mo used ignorance to her advantage until she was forced to defend herself.
Bell has the opposite personality to the mighty Tommy. He is a vicious killer, unrepentant. Tommy spews venom as he intimidates his men and frightens passengers. Your money or your life is more than just a slogan. Tommy knew he was worth more alive than dead. The noose waits, but not after he drops the buried treasure. Tommy must either kill Mo and escape or convince her to let him go.
Jamie Bell as Tommy Walsh
surround Once Mo and Walsh are alone, the dynamic changes. She has powers, but time is fleeting for both of them. Tommy’s tactics changed. He tries to please himself with empathy. Tommy understood Mo’s hardships as a slave, woman, and soldier. He was the first to treat her as an equal. Could it be a fool who is easily charmed. She knew Walsh would say anything to put her guard down. But he told the truth about her life experience. Why should she show loyalty to someone who hates and oppresses her? Maybe a deal with the devil is the best outcome for a bad situation.
Director Anthony Mandler (monster) did a fantastic job of building the characters and setting. surround Beautifully shot, with expansive backgrounds that become more focused as the episode shrinks. When darkness and snow enter the equation, Mo and Tommy take refuge under a tree. The film becomes a desperate game of will. Hatred and resentment lead to stupid mistakes. But a false sense of community can be just as deadly. The great Michael K. Williams, in his final performance, has a third-act entry and a possible solution to Mo’s dilemma.
surround Portraying Mo as the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. She has to be the most capable killer to survive for so long in an unjust world. The film bows to the western gunslinger tropes with her bombastic skill. Every shot she fired found its target, and the bad guys couldn’t hit the barn’s broadside. After the initial grounding, the action became a little too fantastic. After nailing down the nuances and exploring serious themes, this leaves no doubt about the resolution.
surround Is a production of Bron Studios, Blackhand Media Productions, Mandalay Pictures and 3.16 Productions. MGM will release the VOD and digital release on June 20.