Scott Cooper often compensates for his middling work as a screenwriter with his evident talent as a director, elevating middlebrow fare about modern-day country music (Crazy Heart) and Whitey Bulger (Black Mass) by getting great performances out of his actors and skillfully capturing a mood. He can’t manage the same with his attempt at a western, mostly because the script, based on a manuscript by deceased screenwriter Donald E. Stewart (Missing, The Hunt for Red October), is too awful to salvage. In the late 19th century, a bloodthirsty army captain (Christian Bale) is tasked, under presidential orders, with delivering a sadistic Cheyenne war chief (Wes Studi) from New Mexico to his home in Montana to die; along the way they encounter a woman (Rosamund Pike) whose family was slaughtered by Comanches and escort her north. The journey is beautifully shot by cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi, but Bale’s genius is wasted—he’s often resigned to looking sullen and straining to recite the clunky dialogue. With Ben Foster, Jesse Plemons, Peter Mullan, and Rory Cochrane.