Two brothers start a bank robbing spree in order to save their family ranch, but quickly draw the eye of a Texas Ranger nearing retirement.
Hell or High Water (2016)
Directed by David Mackenzie
Written by Taylor Sheridan
Starring Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges,
Gil Birmingham, Marin Ireland
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor
(Jeff Bridges), Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing
Hell or High Water is essentially a farewell to the Western genre through the eyes of a faded old cowboy (Jeff Bridges). Throughout, we follow two bank-robbing brothers trying to save their family ranch from getting foreclosed on by the bank. They fit the typical trope of the Western hero, despite their ill intentions. It is in this respect that Hell or High Water is unique. It is both a Western and not a Western. Regardless of it's genre, the film kept me well entertained from beginning to end with expert character building and a tense, thrilling script.
Chris Pine and Ben Foster both delivered powerhouse performances, particularly Chris Pine as this felt out of his wheelhouse big time. Even though they're bank robbers and even become killers, you continuously get the impression that they are not bad people. Underneath all the blood and money, they're doing this for family. It's a great lesson in morality and shows the grey areas of life that most films fail to capture. Jeff Bridges plays the aging Texas Ranger who pursues them, and he knocks it out of the park as well. Bridges channels his Rooster Cogburn and plays Ranger Marcus Hamilton as a cowboy past his prime with no more outlaws to round up. Through him, we are treated to an ode to the Western heroes before him like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. It's a brilliant subtext that echoes throughout the film and builds on an already intriguing story.
I'd heard great things about this film all year and I'm glad I finally got the chance to see it. Hell or High Water is the Western swan song I've been waiting to see since Unforgiven, complete with a modern tale of right and wrong that keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very end. I wish this film all the success in the world. Originality deserves more praise than it receives and this film definitely fits the bill.