Rating: R ( Strong Violence, Language, Brief Sexuality )
Runtime: 1 hr 42 min
Director: David Mackenzie ( Young Adam )
Writer: Taylor Sheridan ( Sicario )
Cinematography: Giles Nuttgens ( Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace )
Music: Nick Cave ( Lawless ), Warren Ellis ( Lawless )
Starring: Jeff Bridges ( The Big Lebowski, Crazy Heart, True Grit ), Chris Pine ( Star Trek, Wonder Woman ), Ben Foster ( 3:10 to Yuma, Lone Survivor )
Recently, I started making a list of movies that I either wanted to see or just haven’t watched for one reason or another. Let’s just say my list has become very lengthy. It seems like when I watch one, I end up adding two more. It’s never ending. Hell or High Water has been on this list since its release in 2016.
The movie is centered around two brothers, Toby and Tanner Howard. Toby, a divorced father desperate to leave a future for his sons, and Tanner, an ex-con with a wild and reckless side, will go to great lengths in order to save their family’s ranch in West Texas.
The movie opens with the brothers, Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster), beginning their notorious new lifestyle of bank robbing. In spite of a few small hiccups along the way, they do make off with a little money, nothing too big just loose bills from the registers. They proceed to rob one small Texas Midlands bank after another, each one going smoother than the last. We soon learn that there is a bigger picture here than just two ole boys from Texas wanting money. Texas Midland has foreclosed on the family’s ranch (which we learn there’s more to than just land) through some questionable, although legal deals. Toby, the brains of this partnership, has devised a plan to take the money they were stealing from Texas Midland and use it to pay off their debt to the very same bank. They even found a way to cleverly conceal where all this money is coming from. Sounds like the perfect plan – take small amounts of money so that it is untraceable and doesn’t gain them too much unwanted attention, a quick in and out, no one gets hurt, the only victim is the bank and well, no body likes banks in West Texas anyway.
However, what would a good ole bank robber movie be without its lawman? That job goes to U.S. Marshall Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges), an old school lawman in the late stages of his career. While other law enforcement are focusing on the robberies, Hamilton takes his own approach to the situation. This rough talking but witty cowboy soon begins to figure these boys out little by little.
The beginning scenes of this movie are the best. Seeing these two inexperienced boys robbing bank after bank is quite amusing and unique in its own way. It just seems like after setting a great foundation that writer Taylor Sheridan didn’t really know what to do with the rest of the film. Sometimes it would work, with the wittiness and punch lines coming from Bridges, and sometimes it seemed like the movie was trying so hard to emulate No Country for Old Men. The ending is even a little mediocre. It’s a generic western-style ending with everyone in the desert up on mountains shooting at each other. It brought back memories of old western shows that used to come on television but with much better acting of course.
Even though the film lacked a little in quality, the acting is what held it together for me. Chris Pine probably has his best performance of anything I have seen him in. I’m used to seeing the comical charm of Captain Kirk, not the dialed down seriousness of Toby Howard. Ben Foster was okay, but I felt his character was overdone a tad bit. Jeff Bridges is very entertaining to watch in anything he does. He’s not ‘The Dude’ in this one but does a great job with his character.
All in all, I enjoyed watching Hell or High Water. It was a very enjoyable film. Great actors with great performances, a good storyline, bank robberies and gunfights, I mean, what’s not to like?
I’m going to give Hell or High Water an 80%