In an era of comic book movies and remakes it's rare to watch a movie without some idea of how it will end. Now this doesn't affect the enjoyment - not for me anyway - life's about the journey not the destination. But it's refreshing to go to the cinema without a clue how the movie will end, British Director David Mackenzie delivers just that with Hell or High Water.
Brothers Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner Howard (Ben Foster) concoct a plan to rob banks in order to save the family ranch. Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham) are the Texas Ranger's assigned to investigate the robberies, as per Hollywood cliche it's Marcus' last case before retirement. Family is definitely the major theme of this movie, that and what people will do for their families. In this case, as the title would suggest, come hell or high water, whatever it takes no matter what the cost.
Hell or High Water is written by Taylor Sheridan, the man behind the script for Sicario, Sheridan also played Deputy Chief Hale in Sons of Anarchy. The script was the winner of the 2012 Blacklist, and it's easy to see why with characters that not only feel real but relatable as well and a believable and compelling storyline that fits well in the current financial climate. How many people consider this course of action every day? How desperate do you have to be to go from consideration to actually doing it? One thing I would like to know is where does Sheridan stand on the gun control debate? Without giving too much away, Texas seems like a really stupid place to rob banks!
With a cast like this I don't really need to say it but the performances are great all round. Pine and Foster are very believable as brothers who have led very different lives and despite not being all that close still share an unbreakable bond. Watch out for the scene involving a lime green Dodge Challenger at a petrol station. The same could be said of the relationship between Bridges and Birmingham's characters. They are constantly taking the piss out of each other, in fact you get the sense that they don't even like each other very much but they share a bond none the less, like all those who work in law enforcement. This really is the source of levity and lighter moments in the script. Watching the banter, the back and forth between brothers (on both sides of the law) as they rib each other over everything and nothing, and despite all this there's a sense of mutual respect and loyalty. All of the actors have done a good job of developing a southern accent, although Bridges sounds like he's got a mouthful of god knows what, much like his performance as Rooster Cogburn in the remake of True Grit. Gil Birmingham does well opposite Bridges, his performance as the cop looking forward to being rid of his cantankerous old partner and his mildly racist jokes is flawless. It's especially enjoyable to watch him get back at Bridges' character by ribbing him about his retirement and old age.
Hell or High Water is definitely a contender for Best Movie of 2016, in fact I would be surprised if it didn't do well come Oscar time. It's almost worth watching for the views alone, despite being set in Texas it was filmed in New Mexico. If you're looking for a realistic crime drama with a great story, excellent performances and an unpredictable ending, you can't go far wrong with Hell or High Water.
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