The movie, written for the screen and directed by Scott Cooper (who helmed Jeff Bridges’ Oscar-winning performance in "Crazy Heart"), is careful not to demonize anyone and make the path to redemption both slow and methodical.
The Hollywood Reporter
Contemplative and absorbing rather than rip-roaring and exciting, the film will likely play better to Western connoisseurs than to general and younger audiences, but it's an estimable piece of work grounded by a fine-grain sensibility and an expertly judged lead performance.
Hostiles demands patience and concentration but rewards that with an assured, thought-provoking window into a past whose legacy is still being felt to this day.
This is a proudly traditional oater that travels down old trails with new sadism, as though the Western genre only died off because the movies weren’t cruel enough.
A flawed, but interesting drama.
New York Magazine (Vulture)
Hostiles is a brutal if well-intentioned film that doesn’t help its cause with its lack of development of its Native characters.
Bale and Pike are superb. Despite some melodramatic tendencies and strange choices in Cooper’s script they make you have sympathy and compassion for each of their characters.
The A.V. Club
Like Cooper’s Rust Belt faux-noir "Out Of The Furnace," it’s an exercise in strained seriousness, the potential ironies and dramatic tensions lost in a repetitive, episodic, and politically vapid narrative.
Though it basically argues that the surest way to overcome racism is to spend some time getting to know “the other,” Cooper’s film offers audiences no such opportunity, depriving its native characters of so much as a single scene in which they are treated as anything more than abstract plot devices in service of the white folks’ enlightenment.
Scott Cooper's film moves at a funereal pace, implicitly celebrating its sluggishness as a mark of integrity.