Whilst it's not exact to refer to this, Sicario and Hell or High Water as a trilogy in setting or character, it certainly is through themes as said by Sheridan himself. In all of his films so far, there is a principle character who is a father who is trying to make amends for previous shortcomings as a parent. In Sicario, that was Benicio Del Toro's Alejandro, in Hell or High Water it was Chris Pine's Toby, and in this we have Jeremy Renner's Cory Lambert, a wildlife reserve hunter who despite his profession as a protector and hunter is haunted by the murder of his daughter Emily three years prior to the events of this movie.
Sheridan, as an actor, is expert with giving his actors, even the minor players, a lot to play with. Now, with him moving behind the lense with this film, he shows that he can also give his actors excellent direction to go with this. In particular, the standout of this movie is Jeremy Renner in his role as Cory. Cory is noteworthy in this film, since he lives and works in the Wyoming Wind River Native American reverse, of being one of the few white American men who work on the land, and is ironically the outsider here. Renner plays the character with a steel similar to Del Toro's portrayal of Alejandro, but is far more empathetic, and is certainly the standout of the film's amazing cast.
Elsewhere, Elizabeth Olsen is in the film playing FBI Agent Jane Banner. She's newly qualified, completely unprepared for the conditions, and completely under resourced. This character could've easily been a useless bimbo type of girl, but fortunately in the hands of Olsen, this part gifted by one of the most exciting new writers of our time is given something new: Jane is smart enough to recognise that she's out of her depth and needs help, is humble enough to empathise with Ben, the police chief, and is realistically capable in gunfight situations.
The film's plot is simple, but intriguing: the body of a Native American woman, Natalie, is found raped, barefoot, 6 miles from the nearest civilisation in extreme snow. Jane arrives, and teams up with the Police and Cory to find the truth. The simplicity of the plot doesn't affect the pacing, which is certainly contemplative for the first 20 minutes, but then the rest of the film grows in action and interest - should be noted that this film is very short by modern film standards, at 110 minutes. It certainly is visually interesting, with lots of fantastic poetic imagery with Cory hunting the wolves to protect the Native's flock, the snowstorm setting looking great on screen, and strong correlation of soundtrack and imagery and the way the two don't trample on the other.
The supporting cast is amazing, with actors such as Graham Greene, James Jordan, Julia Jones and Eric Lange providing memorable roles.
But the true standouts among the supporting cast are Gil Birmingham, who plays Natalie's father, a big, warm presence in the film consisting of the cold, Kelsey Chow playing Natalie herself, and Jon Bernthal playing Natalie's similarly ill-fated boyfriend Matt. Bernthal and Chow only have one scene in the movie, and it's a scene that needs to work otherwise both the investment of the audience and the realism of the situation would fail, and the vibe they give off - that of a relationship that is genuine, affectionate, funny and caring - is one that makes the events of that scene so much more tragic.
This movie is brilliant. Admittedly, I've only watched it the once, but it's certainly got the feeling of rewatchability like Hell or High Water especially has. If you haven't seen it yet, buy the DVD and support it.