Hostiles opens with a scene right out of The Searchers, with a family being brutally slaughtered by a Comanche raid. But this scene is more brutal. In The Searchers we just see the results of the raid. In Hostiles we see it take place. The mother, Rosalee (Rosamund Pike), watches her husband get scalped while still alive, and then sees her two daughters being shot down while running away. The infant that she is carrying is also shot and killed in her arms.
Captain Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale) is a good cavalry officer and a renowned Indian fighter, but he is filled with hate. He has seen many of his men tortured and slaughtered by the hostile Indians he has been fighting for over twenty years. It is now 1892 and he is ready to retire and collect his pension. But Col. Biggs give him one last assignment. He must escort his nemesis, Cheyenne Chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi), back to his home and in Montana, so that he can die. It is a political public relations event that has been by the approved by the President. A very reluctant Blocker takes on the task.
On the trip Blocker discovers Rosalee and helps her bury her children. She is a destroyed person, as is Blocker who is haunted by the memories of the things that have been done to his men, and the things he has done to revenge them.
The Comanche party attacks them and Yellow Hawk and his son Yellow Hawk (Adam Beach) help fight them off, even though they are in chains. Blocker has the chains taken off of them so they can help if they are attacked again. That night Yellow Hawk and his son sneak off and kill the Comanches. We don't see them do it, but we see the results the next day.
Surprisingly, Rosalee gets friendly with Yellow Hawk's daughter. And as the trip goes on you can also see Blocker coming to develop a respect for the dying Yellow Hawk.
After stopping at another fort, Blocker picks up a prisoner to be transported. The soldier, Philip Wills (Ben Foster), has slaughtered an Indian family. He is an old friend of Blocker, and can't understand why Blocker, who has done things just as bad, won't let him go. But Blocker is changing. He tells Wills that the things he did were part of the job. Wills is killed trying to escape.
Three trappers kidnap Rosalee, and Yellow Hawk's daughter Elk Woman (Q'orianka Kilcher). A now united group goes in to rescue the trappers. Little Hawk leads the band who make quick work of the trappers who have raped the two women.
By the time they get to Montana the hate that Blocker and Yellow Hawk had felt for each other has disappeared. The movie has really been about the transformation of Blocker on his journey. It is very much like the transformation that Ethan Edwards went through in The Searchers. Ethan was also a man who had terrible things done to his family by hostiles, and has also done terrible things in retaliation. Ethan was filled with hate. But on his journey with Martin, he begins to heal.
A really good movie, with a great cast.