A landscape of darkness, the distance muzzle flashes of a shootout. Violence, brutality. The Sisters Brothers opens like many westerns before it, but then it spirals into oddball directions as two lowly, dangerous, comic relief henchmen take center stage and throw the rest of the genre into sharp relief.
John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix star as Eli and Charlie Sisters, two hired guns working for an unseen commodore, who sends them on a quest spanning the American west in 1851. Their boss wants them to track down a chemist, Hermann Kermit Warm (Riz Ahmed), who may have developed a chemical that could change the mining industry forever.
It’s a simple mission, on the surface. Another of the commodore’s agents, John Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal), has tracked the scientist down. All the Sisters Brothers need to do is catch up, torture the formula out of him, and go home. But if you want to make god laugh, as the old story goes, just make a plan; the Sisters Brothers wind up sidetracked by spiders, thunderstorms, bears, treachery, greed, and the ingrained dysfunctions in their own relationship.