So, that ending, huh? The Harder They Fall was never going to ride off into the sunset, especially given how it’s a tale of bloodshed and revenge on a road littered with bullets and gunpowder. But, still, it hit hard – and the third act twist hit harder.
Spoilers for The Harder They Fall follow.
After Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) and his gang descend on Rufus Buck’s clan, chaos ensues. Various members of each side – including Cherokee Bill (LaKeith Stanfield) and Jim Beckworth (RJ Cyler) – meet their ends, while Stagecoach Mary (Zazie Beetz) gets the better of Treacherous Trudy Smith (Regina King) in a brutal struggle – with Trudy just managing to escape with her life.
From there, Nat Love confronts Buck (Idris Elba) who hits him with an almighty home truth and a shocking twist: they’re related.
Buck reveals that his abusive father fled after murdering his mother and started out a new life as a man of the cloth. The flashback scene we see at The Harder They Fall’s beginning, then, is Buck finding his father (and his new wife, Nat’s mother) and killing him in front of a young Nat Love.
Buck spits out three words at Nat: "You a Buck." But Love isn’t swayed from his course, killing his half-brother where he stands.
Was Nat Love having second thoughts, or did Majors consider a different path might be possible for the gunslinger? It’s a question we put to the man himself during a recent interview, who helps take us into Love's mindset during that climatic scene.
"That’s what the whole scene is: Nat trying to wrestle with what it is that was just said to him. Does he believe it? Can he believe it? If he does believe it – what does that mean?" Majors says.
"If this whole time he’s trying to make it fair and Buck did what he did because something was done to him [then] I don’t know if Nat wants to kill him. I don’t know if Nat wants it to end that way."
But, according to Majors, it was only ever going to end one way for Nat Love – and those actions will have consequences.
"There’s only really one truth – and that was what was happening between me and Buck in the moment," Majors says.
"If Nat is only thinking about making it fair, you can’t change your mind just because you don’t want to do something. You’ve got to stick to your guns. The fair thing to do in that moment is to do what is done. There are consequences to that. It’s a life-altering moment. His life will never be the same again."
As Nat Love rides off with Stagecoach Mary, a certain Trudy Smith can be seen overlooking the horizon. The cycle of revenge may yet continue – though it remains to be seen whether that story will play out on down the line on Netflix.