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'Hostiles' represents a reawakened genre

Once feared dead but found only sleeping, the western has sprung back to strong and compelling life with the intense, involving "Hostiles" (selected theaters) being the latest case in point.

Written and directed by Scott Cooper and powered by a dynamic trio of interwoven performances by Christian Bale as a seen-it-all cavalry officer, Wes Studi as the war chief he has to escort home and Rosamund Pike as a widow met along the way, "Hostiles" grabs you by the throat and holds on for the duration.

A tale of physical, emotional and even moral survival, "Hostiles" deals in people pushed to their limits and then some, individuals marked in the deepest way by the violence of the frontier. The film does not so much modernize the western as concentrate on character psychology and dramatic tension, creating a force field of emotion from start to finish that is as enveloping as anyone could wish for.

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kenneth.turan@latimes.com

@KennethTuran

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