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Release Date: 06/20/23 [VOD]
Genre: Western.

Studio: MGM

"Former Buffalo Soldier Mo Washington travels West to lay claim on a gold mine. After her stagecoach is ambushed, Mo is tasked with holding a dangerous outlaw captive and must survive the day when the bandit's gang tries to free him." 


Westerns are not usually my jam, but this film is exceptional. Letitia Wright turns in a lead performance so powerful, vulnerable and achingly authentic that it is hard to take your eyes off her. The rest of the film rose to meet and support her remarkable talent.


Surrounded is so much more than your standard Western or Wild West tale, bringing a voice and perspective to the genre that I haven’t seen before. 


The title of the film no doubt alludes to the constant, multi-layered peril our hero, Mo Washington, finds herself immersed in throughout the story. No matter the dangers and threats she is faced with, Mo stays true to her core values and beliefs – and did I mention she is an expert markswoman and total badass?


The superb cinematography immediately sets the tone, with the gorgeous and moody New Mexico imagery and scenery playing almost as important a role as Wright herself. 


The action sequences are startlingly good in Surrounded, too, including multiple gunfights and a riveting runaway stagecoach scene that had me on the edge of my seat. I had to go back and watch it a second time – it was that intense.


Male lead Jamie Bell does a terrific job with his role as legendary outlaw Tommy Walsh. The always exceptional Michael K. Williams also turned in a stellar performance here, in what sadly turned out to be his final role.


There were a couple of very darkly-lit fight scenes where it was tough to make out details, but other than that I can’t fault Anthony Mandler’s superb direction or film-making choices. There were some truly gorgeous shots that made the most of the unique filming location in and around New Mexico’s canyons and vistas.


Surrounded manages to dole out historical facts about the Buffalo Soldiers, women dressing as men in search of a better life and the plight of former enslaved people with nowhere to go – but it does so without ever seeming pedantic or inauthentic. The end result is a riveting and haunting Wild West story that is told from a fresh new perspective.


I can’t wait to watch it again.

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