Today’s double feature is The Harder They Fall and Concrete Cowboy. And I have to say, the western genre is still going strong! Both films star Idris Elba and for me, he’s one of those actors that if he’s in it I’m seeing it!  


After seeing Man of Steel, I was hoping Idris Elba was going to be cast as Lex Luthor in future Superman flicks. While I’m glad he was in The Suicide Squad, there went my Lex Luthor dream.  


Do I enjoy western movies? Yes. However, for many trying to figure out what to watch it’s not their first go-to genre. The popularity of the Western has definitely faded over time. In order to keep it going, you need to bring something new to it. The space genre is a great example of changing things up over time. In the 70s Star Wars launched. In the ’80s, we were shown fear and action in Aliens. In the 90’s we were given The Fifth Element. In the 2000’s we have the highest grossing movie of all time, Avatar. The 2010s introduced us to The Martian. Most recently, in 20201, we traveled to Dune. All are unique, successful, and all have shown how the space genre has changed. And now, Netflix has two flicks currently streaming that have brought freshness to the western genre.   

Mark’s Favorite Western Movie Rushmore! Blazing Saddles, Dances with Wolves, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Tombstone.  

The Harder They Fall

I’ve been looking forward to The Harder They Fall as soon as I saw the trailer. It looks like a fresh take on an old-school-style western. Outlaws, trains, shooting while on horses, quickdraws, and a great cast. Sold! But would this western be a hard sell to others? For one, it’s a western that focuses on real historical figures. (This is where making the genre fresh comes into play).

The film uses its popular cast, backed by a great album, and a modern vibe in order to create a film that wouldn’t be called a granddaddy western. Shout out to director Jeymes Samuel on his first feature-length film. He made a film that has a grand look and great western action, on top of an all-star cast. The Harder They Fall is handled like someone who has been balancing action, characters, and story for a long time. His film acknowledges the old-school westerns but doesn’t stay in the past. The cast shows the power of a great ensemble. No matter the name of the actor, or the size of their part, the whole cast elevated the film with their performances. Give this one a chance and see why the western genre is still wild and good.  

If you want to see more of Samuel’s work check out his shorter film, They Die by Dawn

Concrete Cowboy  

The entertainment site IMDb doesn’t have this film listed as a western, but in my book it is. The story and film scream modern western. A rebellious teen (Caleb McLaughlin) must live with his estranged father for the summer. There he’ll learn about the ways of a group of cowboys in Philadelphia. The teen will learn that the way of the cowboy may be fading, but its spirit is strong. The teen will see that you don’t have to be an outlaw in the west to survive. Great concept for a western! 

I will admit this film sat in my Netflix queue for a while before I finally watched it. As I mentioned earlier, if Idris Elba is in it, I’m watching it. Personally, I needed to be in the right mood to watch it. Concrete Cowboy had me right away and held my attention from start to finish. The film is a first-time feature by Ricky Staub. And is an intimate look at a teen struggling to find his way. Idris Elba plays the struggling cowboy father figure perfectly. While many would probably question or laugh at the idea of a cowboy in North Philly, Elba makes you believe right away that this way of life is legit. 

Stranger Things’ McLaughlin plays his son, the troubled teen, and shows his talents go beyond Hawkins. McLaughlin shows the struggles of trying to figure out who you are and who you can be. Concrete Cowboy could easily have been another film about a struggling teen whose family is trying to save him from a life of gangs and crime. However, this film based on the book “Ghetto Cowboy” and real-life North Philly cowboys, takes a different approach by making it a modern-day western. This brings freshness to the western genre and to the struggling teen storyline. Bravo to Staub for showing in his film how important community is, the beauty of horses, and the strength in family.  

Mark’s Idris Elba Rushmore! 

Luther, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, The Suicide Squad, and Thor: The Dark World.  I feel like I may need to address my Rushmore with some of you wonderful readers. You probably noticed Thor: The Dark World. Yep! Hot take! I like the movie and it’s a lot of fun. Out of the three Thor flicks, his best performance is in the second one. It’s worthy.