The Harder They Fall (2021 film)

The Harder They Fall
"Promotional release poster": The silhouettes of a group of four people wearing Western-style clothing. Above their heads, to the top right corner of the poster, is the title in a yellow font: "The Harder They Fall".
Promotional release poster
Directed byJeymes Samuel
Screenplay by
Story byJeymes Samuel
Produced by
CinematographyMihai Mălaimare Jr.
Edited byTom Eagles
Music byJeymes Samuel
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
  • October 6, 2021 (2021-10-06) (LFF)
  • October 22, 2021 (2021-10-22) (United States)
Running time
139 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Harder They Fall is a 2021 American Revisionist Western film directed by Jeymes Samuel, who co-wrote the screenplay with Boaz Yakin. The film stars Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Lakeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, Danielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi, and Deon Cole. It is one of few Westerns whose principal cast members are all Black. Although a fictional film, its characters are based on real cowboys, lawmen, and outlaws of the 19th-century American West.

The Harder They Fall had its world premiere at the BFI London Film Festival on October 6, 2021. It received a limited release on October 22, 2021, prior to streaming on Netflix on November 3. The film received generally positive reviews.


Nat Love is eating dinner with his parents when Rufus Buck and his gang come to their house, gun down his parents, and carve a cross into his forehead.

Twenty years later, an adult Love, now an outlaw, kills one of the gang members in revenge. Meanwhile, his partners, sharpshooter Bill Pickett and quick-draw Jim Beckwourth, ambush another gang and steal their haul from a recent bank robbery. The lone survivor tells them the $25,000 they have stolen belongs to Buck. Love travels to meet his former lover Mary Fields, who runs a chain of saloons. Pickett brings news of the heist to Love.

Buck's gang, led by Trudy Smith and quickdraw Cherokee Bill, retrieve Buck from a train leaving from Yuma, where he had been incarcerated. Arriving in his former stronghold of Redwood City, it's now run by Buck's associate Wiley Escoe. Although left in charge by Buck, Escoe has used the position to profit at the expense of the town. Buck beats him, ordering him to leave town. Buck gathers the townspeople and tells them they will need $50,000 to save the town and proposes a tax to raise that money. He kills a man who objects but accepting the townsfolk cannot raise the full amount.

In Field's saloon, Marshal Bass Reeves arrests Love, removing him in handcuffs. The arrest was staged so they can hunt down Buck without involving Love's gang: Reeves is angry because Buck has been pardoned, and he knows Love wants revenge. Love's gang, however, accompanied by Fields and her friend Cuffee, suspecting a ruse, follow Love and Reeves, insisting on joining. They encounter Escoe, who tells them Buck has returned to Redwood. Fields volunteers to scout Redwood under the cover of offering to buy Smith's saloon. The night before she leaves Love proposes, but she turns him down.

When Fields arrives in Redwood, Smith takes her prisoner and beats her, then says she will hold her hostage for a day and then kill her if no one comes to fetch her. Love's gang arrives the same night, but Smith insists he join Fields in captivity, which he does. Smith has him beaten, then Buck tells him to release Fields, Love will need to rob a bank in Marysville, a White town, and give Buck the money. Love and Cuffee rob the bank without killing anyone and escape.

Reeves and Love agree Buck will not release Mary even if they hand over the money. Escoe supplies them with a cart full of guns and dynamite. They take the money into Redwood, in two cars, one of which is a dummy, both primed with dynamite. After the dummy wagon is destroyed, killing some of Buck's henchmen, Love hands over the money, but is stopped from leaving by Cherokee Bill. Beckwourth challenges him to a quickdraw contest but is shot and killed by Bill while counting down. A gunfight erupts during which Pickett, Cuffee, Reeves, and Love kill most of Buck's gang, and the money is destroyed in another explosion. Escoe infiltrates Buck's house with more dynamite but is killed by Buck, while Pickett and Love are wounded.

Mary is freed by Cuffee and pursues Smith, who she defeats in a hand-to-hand fight. During a lull, Pickett is shot in the back by Bill, who is subsequently killed by Cuffee. Love enters Buck's house but finds him unwilling to defend himself. Instead, Buck tells him about his own parents: his outlaw father killed his mother after a long period of abuse, and then abandoned him when he was ten. Buck subsequently hunted his father down, finding he changed his ways and name, and reveals that his father was also Love's. While he killed his father in revenge, he says the real revenge was driving Love into outlawry, and he scarred Love's face so that he would recognize him when he saw him again. Love then shoots Buck dead.

Love and his companions bury Pickett and Beckwourth alongside another grave marked "Nat Love." Reeves will report Love as dead and Cuffee joins Reeves in law enforcement. Mary and Love ride off, as Smith looks on from a distance.



The film was announced in July 2019, when Jonathan Majors was cast to star in it. Musician Jeymes Samuel co-wrote and directed the film.[2] Idris Elba would join in November, and Jay-Z, who would produce the film, was announced to be writing original music for the film.[3] By September 2020, Zazie Beetz, Lakeith Stanfield, Delroy Lindo and Regina King would be among new cast members added to the film.[4]

Filming had been scheduled to begin in March 2020 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but was delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.[5][6] Cynthia Erivo, Wesley Snipes and Sterling K. Brown, who were initially cast, had to exit due to the delays caused by the pandemic.[7] Filming commenced in September 2020,[8][9] but was paused on October 15 after a background actor tested positive for COVID-19.[10]


The film had its world premiere at the BFI London Film Festival on October 6, 2021.[11][12] It also screened at the Montclair Film Festival on October 22, 2021.[13] It received a limited release on October 22, 2021, prior to streaming on Netflix on November 3.[14][15]


  1. “Lightnin’ With The Blam Blams (Skit)” by Edi Gathegi & R.J. Cyler
  2. “The Harder They Fall” by Koffee
  3. “Guns Go Bang” by Kid Cudi & Jay-Z
  4. “Better Than Gold” by Barrington Levy
  5. “Black Woman” by Fatoumata Diawara & Ms. Lauryn Hill
  6. “Wednesday’s Child” by Alice Smith
  7. “Blackskin Mile” by CeeLo Green
  8. “Ain’t No Better Love” by Seal
  9. “We Ain’t No Nincompoop (Skit)” by LaKeith Stanfield & Regina King
  10. “King Kong Riddim [feat. BackRoad Gee]” by JAY-Z, Jadakiss, & Conway The Machine
  11. “We Go Harder” by Laura Mvula & Mayra Andrade
  12. “Is The Devil Dead? (Skit)” by Zazie Beetz & Jonathan Majors
  13. “No Turning Around” by Jeymes Samuel
  14. “Three And Thirty Years” by Pretty Yende


On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 86% of 148 critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 7.5/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "It isn't as bold and fearless as its characters, but The Harder They Fall fills its well-worn template with style, energy, and a fantastic cast."[17] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 68 out of 100 based on 38 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[18]


  1. ^ Zacharek, Stephanie (October 6, 2021). "The Harder They Fall Fails to Make Enough Room for Each Star Among Its Stellar Cast". Time. Archived from the original on October 28, 2021. Retrieved November 4, 2021.
  2. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (July 24, 2019). "Netflix Sets Jonathan Majors For 'The Harder They Fall'; Jeymes Samuel Makes Helming Debut". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on January 16, 2021. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  3. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (November 18, 2019). "Idris Elba Joins All-Black Western 'The Harder They Fall' From Producer Jay-Z". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on August 6, 2020. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  4. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (September 11, 2020). "Zazie Beetz, Lakeith Stanfield, Oscar Winner Regina King, More Join Idris Elba & Jonathan Majors In 'The Harder They Fall' Western at Netflix". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on November 1, 2020. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  5. ^ Grobar, Matt (March 9, 2020). "'Stranger Things' Will Shoot in New Mexico For Season 4; Netflix Touts Growing Production Hub – Hot Spots: New Mexico". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on March 9, 2020. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  6. ^ Thorne, Will; Aurthur, Kate (March 12, 2020). "All the Shows and Movies Shut Down or Delayed Because of Coronavirus". Variety. Archived from the original on March 14, 2020. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  7. ^ Kit, Borys (September 11, 2020). "Regina King, Zazie Beetz, Lakeith Stanfield and Delroy Lindo Cast in Western 'The Harder They Fall'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on November 29, 2020. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  8. ^ Kroll, Justin (September 14, 2020). "Johnathan Majors Joins Marvel Cinematic Universe, Lands Major Role in Next 'Ant-Man' Movie". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on September 14, 2020. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  9. ^ "New Mexico Film Office Announces "The Harder They Fall" to Begin Filming in New Mexico". Grant County Beat. September 25, 2020. Archived from the original on January 28, 2021. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  10. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (October 17, 2020). "Netflix Western 'The Harder They Fall' Stops Production Following Positive COVID Test". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on January 13, 2021. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  11. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (August 4, 2021). "London Film Festival To Open With World Premiere Of Netflix Western 'The Harder They Fall' Starring Idris Elba, Jonathan Majors, Regina King, LaKeith Stanfield". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on August 4, 2021. Retrieved August 4, 2021.
  12. ^ Szalai, Georg (August 4, 2021). "Netflix's Star-Studded Western 'The Harder They Fall' to Open London Film Festival". Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on August 4, 2021. Retrieved August 4, 2021.
  13. ^ George, Liz (September 17, 2021). "Montclair Film Festival To Open with Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch". Baristanet. Archived from the original on September 17, 2021. Retrieved September 18, 2021.
  14. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (August 23, 2021). "Netflix Dates Fall Movies: A Whopping 42 Movies Coming At You". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on August 23, 2021. Retrieved August 23, 2021.
  15. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (January 12, 2021). "Netflix Unveils A 2021 Film Slate With Bigger Volume & Star Wattage; Scott Stuber on the Escalating Film Ambition". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on January 12, 2021. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  16. ^
  17. ^ "The Harder They Fall (2021)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  18. ^ "The Harder They Fall Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved November 6, 2021.

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