While the runtime suggests an epic tale, the final product leans more towards mere length without the captivating depth of an epic.
Apple TV+ has picked up the mantle from Netflix, giving Scorsese free rein much like with “The Irishman.” The outcome? A drawn-out retelling of the heinous murders of Native Americans for their oil wealth, with the complicit negligence of local law enforcement.
One can’t deny Scorsese’s dedication to historical and cultural precision. Pairing once again with Robert De Niro, the film seeks to peel back layers of America’s violent past. Leonardo DiCaprio, a frequent collaborator of Scorsese, disappointingly doesn’t match the movie’s intended magnitude, falling short of delivering the desired emotional impact.
In contrast, Lily Gladstone shines as Mollie Kyle, a wealthy Osage woman, whose portrayal is rich and compelling, though occasionally let down by the script’s leaning.
De Niro’s Bill Hale, a town influencer with a keen eye on the lucrative oil rights, plots with his nephew, DiCaprio’s Ernest Burkhart, to exploit these riches. This strategic alliance and their ruthless quest for wealth form the central plot, though it’s often paced too languidly.
Adapted from David Grann’s book and co-written with Eric Roth, Scorsese’s film does shed light on a dark chapter in American history, with a noteworthy nod to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Still, it takes a considerable amount of time to set the stage.
A shift in narrative, with the introduction of the nascent FBI and an agent played by Jesse Plemons, offers a refreshing change, though it arrives belatedly.
In sum, while “Killers of the Flower Moon” is an earnest attempt to spotlight a gruesome era, its overly deliberate pacing might not resonate with everyone. One expects a film of such length, helmed by Scorsese, to be epic in its entirety, not just in its ambition.