TAYLOR Sheridan has quickly gained a reputation as one of Hollywood’s hottest new writers.

He was behind filmmaker Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario about the war on drugs on the border between the US and Mexico and he penned the Oscar nominated gritty crime thriller Hell or High Water.

Now Sheridan is out to prove his worth in the director’s chair with Wind River, which he also wrote the screenplay for.

Wind River has all the signature markers of Sheridan’s work in terms of violent crime, high stakes and desperate characters where circumstances bring them to extremes.

But, set in the snow plains of Wyoming, the harsh reality of the freezing wilderness also dictates every aspect of this story, inspired in part by true events.

The film sees game tracker Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) discover the body of a girl on a remote Native American reservation.

Rookie FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) is sent to investigate but is utterly unprepared for the bitter cold where forces of nature outweigh the rule of law.

Sheridan’s film disappointingly follows familiar beats – the pair team up to hunt the killer and, of course, form a bond against the odds, Cory confronts his past which fits into the themes of the story a little too neatly to be convincing.

Wind River requires patience too because the first half is quite slow and relies on a brooding tension which isn’t always there.

But Sheridan more than makes up for this with a staggeringly powerful and nail-biting final act.

Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead, Punisher) also puts in a powerhouse of a performance with a brief role in the film in the form of a flashback that is very hard to watch.

Shockingly, statistics for missing Native American women do not exist in the US – and you can feel Sheridan’s outrage in his work here.

Wind River is not perfect but hints at great things to come from Sheridan both as a writer and director.

RATING: 7.5/10