Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why Taylor Sheridan Considers His First 3 Films A Trilogy

At first glance, the films that kickstarted Taylor Sheridan's writing career may not have a lot in common. From cartels to the unjust banking system, "Sicario," "Hell or High Water," and "Wind River" all take on different issues in America. But that is how they are connected. Though they all take place in radically separate areas of the country, the characters share commonalities as they face a wide range of issues. When speaking to Collider, Sheridan framed these solo movies as part of a trilogy of sorts.

"If you think about it," Sheridan said, "it's three fathers, each facing a failure of whether that failure was innocence or naiveté about I believe for the rule of law with Alejandro, whether it's, you know, with Toby in 'Hell or High Water,' that failure is an inability to provide and so he makes a decision to, you know, operate outside the rule of law in this sort of selfish martyrdom. And with Cory, his failure is trusting his child where he lives in a place where the rule of law doesn't exist." Benicio del Toro plays the assassin Alejandro in "Sicario," while Chris Pine plays Toby in "Hell or High Water," and "Mayor of Kingstown" star Jeremy Renner stars as Cory in "Wind River."  Sheridan paints the three films as a trilogy of tragedies; each father has lost something. Whether through death or just estrangement, the men in these three films suffer inconsolable loss. But that is just the start of the thematic connections between the films in Sheridan's "trilogy." These losses are also a framing device to get at the heart of what Sheridan is writing about.

America suffers from many systemic issues

It may not have been purposeful at first, but after watching these Sheridan-penned movies, it's hard not to spot the connective tissue. The similarities of fathers in mourning are prevalent, but films are at their greatest when the literal events demonstrate a specific point of view about the world. With each film, Sheridan's perspective becomes more clear. The issues of cartels in "Sicario" are made personal with Alejandro's quest for vengeance. After the cartel kills his family, there is nothing he won't do to get retribution. In "Hell or High Water," Toby's bank robbing is a direct consequence of how many people were ruined by banks in the past decade. These are central issues that everyone can identify with.

Sheridan told IndieWire that "Hell or High Water" is about "how much has changed in 100 years, and how much things haven't. What are the consequences of decisions and actions that are a century old and today? I was exploring the death of a way of life, and the acute consequences of the mortgage crisis in East Texas." The mortgage crisis of the late '00s was a multinational financial catastrophe that still affects Americans today. But when it comes to problems more specific to the United States, no movie is more heartening or relevant than "Wind River."

Wind River is Sheridan's magnum opus

Taking place on the real-life Native reservation, "Wind River" is a terrifying representation of the epidemic of missing Indigenous women in America. As the film states, this is the one demographic that has no clear data on how many go missing. Before the film even begins, Cory (Jeremy Renner) has a personal connection to this. Formerly married to Wilma (Julia Jones), a woman on a reservation, the marriage broke up because someone murdered their daughter. No one ever finds the culprit, and when their daughter's friend Natalie (Kelsey Asbille) is murdered years later, it puts an even finer point on this issue.

Natalie dies after being assaulted by a group of white men working security nearby. No one but tribal police and one lone FBI agent, Jane (Elizabeth Olsen), attempts to solve the crime. Underfunded in a culture where Native Americans continue to experience injustice, this is a problem so American that it's painful. Sheridan was so passionate about the issue that "Yellowstone" features Native American history in a continuation of this conversation. Sheridan also cast Asbille as Monica Dutton in storylines that show how much America has failed its Indigenous population. If there is anything that connects Sheridan's first three movies, it is the problems in America that no one seems motivated to solve.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).