- Award Snub: Quite a few people felt that the film was overlooked come Oscar time for categories like Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor for Jeremy Renner. However, due to the film's unfortunate affiliations with The Weinstein Company (see Harsher in Hindsight for more details) and stiff competition, the film's chances were screwed. That being said, it did get a lot of good critical recognition and wound up on many critics top ten lists of 2017, so it wasn't a total loss.
- Broken Base: Over Cory's status as a Mighty Whitey. While many reviewers acknowledge that the film brings up important and little understood issues regarding the treatment of Native Americans in modern America, they also feel that his status as a white savior detracts from the film's progressive message by sidelining the Arapaho characters in favor of yet another White Male Lead.
- Catharsis Factor: After the absolutely traumatic flashback to the rape scene followed by a brutal shootout in which most of the sympathetic deputies are horribly killed, it can be extremely therapeutic to see Cory methodically kill all of the security team in quick succession with his hunting rifle before giving Pete a well deserved Karmic Death.
- Harsher in Hindsight: The film, which centers around the investigation of a sexual assault, was put out by The Weinstein Company, whose co-founder Harvey Weinstein was made a Hollywood pariah once sexual harassment/assault allegations against him over the years were brought up against him two months after the movie's release. Weinstein's name was subsequently removed from the home video and streaming release.
- Jerkass Woobie: Chip. First he learns about his sister's death at an inopportune moment, from an unfortunate use of the past tense. Shortly afterwards, he gets a chance to rant about how his life turned out, and how drugs were pretty much the inevitable outcome. (Cory argues that he still had more of a chance than a lot of his peers did.)
- Nightmare Fuel:
- The rape scene. Everything about it, from the buildup of tension as the other oil workers get increasingly creepy to the actual act itself, as well as Matt being beaten to death for trying to stop it. It manages to be utterly disturbing and heartbreaking.
- Cory's second visit to Natalie's parents is a milder example, but after all that's happened so far, each room he finds empty increases the expectation that he'll find one or both of them dead in the next.
- One-Scene Wonder:
- Tantoo Cardinal as Cory's mother-in-law. She helps Jane suit up for the cold, with a few unasked-for comments on her choice of underwear...then turns deadly serious when reminding her to bring the borrowed winter clothes back in good condition, as they belonged to her granddaughter Emily.
- Jon Bernthal as Natalie's boyfriend Matt in the flashback to Natalie's and his own murder.
- Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: The film is not subtle at all about the abysmal treatment of Native Americans, from government neglect to corporate exploitation to staggeringly high rates of unsolved rapes and murders, and it is all the more effective for it.
- Spiritual Sequel: Forms a Spiritual Trilogy with Sheridan's films Sicario and Hell or High Water with its New Old West vibe, themes of revenge and personal loss, and focus on parts of America that are largely forgotten.
- Tear Jerker:
- Again, the rape scene, especially since we learn right beforehand what a legitimately happy couple Matt and Natalie were, all the while knowing that both are doomed.
- Chip's conversation with Cory is one as well—partly because he hits Cory's Berserk Button, but also because his rant about the despair that pervades the community will be pretty familiar to people from other backgrounds as well.
- What an Idiot!:
- Jane, pretty much every time she tries to deal with any situation involving suspects. Sure, she may be an inexperienced FBI rookie, but still...
- Jane attempting to clear Sam's trailer alone after being bear-sprayed was brave but foolish, considering that her goal was to interrogate Sam's gang as suspects or witnesses. Even with clear vision, barging in and clearing rooms would only make it easier for the addicts to slip outside a back door and escape. Attempting to do so blind and alone practically assured that she could not intimidate or incapacitate anyone, let alone multiple assailants, without using her weapon, putting both her and the addicts in extreme danger. Just waiting outside until she and Ben recovered and allowing Cory to take control of the situation for the interim would have been infinitely safer and more strategically sound (Sam's decision to mace an FBI agent and a tribal cop, then turn a shotgun on one of them qualifies too, but he has an excuse-and on some level, it may have been intentional)
- Much worse is her behavior at the drill site. Jane allowed herself to be put in an incredibly vulnerable position by men who only moments before had surrounded and drawn weapons on them. Federal security permit or not, drawing weapons on law-enforcement is always an offense, even if the officer drew first. Even presuming that Jane thought arresting the security team after the Mexican Standoff wouldn't be safe or practical, the fact that no one brings this up is jarring.
- The other side of the final confrontation is also dumb as bricks. The amount of collected evidence had the security team pretty much dead to rights. Resisting arrest in any capacity only hurt any potential legal defense and ensured that all of them would be held accountable for what happened. What's more, there's no chance that any of them could have gotten away with killing four deputies from two different local departments, especially when doing so would have halved the entire tribal police force. It becomes increasingly ridiculous when taking into account that they would also have to kill both the Tribal Police Chief and an FBI agent. Some of their illogically violent response might be handwaved by assuming that the guards had become unhinged from their isolation.
- WTH, Casting Agency?: Because the film made such an effort to cast Indigenous actors for the Arapaho characters, the choice to cast the half-Caucasian, half-Taiwanese Kelsey Asbille (nee Chow) as Natalie seems more than a little odd. Possibly resulting from this, she claimed to have Cherokee ancestry (though no evidence to support it was found).
- The Woobie: Jane and Matt.
YMMV / Wind River