"He's a butcher," Christian Bale says of a Cheyenne war chief in the trailer for "Hostiles."

"Then the two of you should get along just fine," someone replies.

Bale plays an Army captain in 1892 who reluctantly accepts the assignment of escorting the dying chief (Wes Studi) and his family back to tribal lands. In their journey from New Mexico to Montana, they run into a young widow (Rosamund Pike) who joins the group. They face brutal terrain and dangerous Comanches, not to mention their dark inner thoughts.

The movie reunites Bale with director Scott Cooper, with whom he worked on "Out of the Furnace." Much like Cooper's other films, "Crazy Heart" and "Black Mass," "Hostiles" seems to deal in difficult men dealing with their difficult pasts. Bale looks as intensely grim as ever, and is likely to come up in awards talk.

"Hostiles" also stars Ben Foster, Jesse Plemons, Q'orianka Kilcher, Adam Beach, and Rory Cochrane, and opens in theaters December 22.