My Review of ‘Hell or High Water’ (2016)

This film has been hailed by critics as a revitalization of the Western movie. And it lives up to its hype.

The movie jumps into action from the opening scene. Two brothers, divorced dad Toby (played by Chris Pine) and ex-con Tanner (played by Ben Foster) pull a couple of bank heists right off the bat. Given the (relatively) small amounts stolen, the FBI washes its hands of the case, leaving it to the Texas Rangers.

Credit: Studiocanal

The Ranger investigators are the elder statesman Marcus Hamilton (played by Jeff Bridges, who looks particularly grizzled) and Alberto Parker (played by Gil Birmingham). It’s Marcus who deduces that the pair of bank robbers have method to their madness.

The story may be classified as a “neo-Western thriller”, but it’s also a character driven film. The two brothers have compelling reasons for robbing the banks. In fact, the banks get little sympathy all around. At times, the pair reminded me of Bonnie and Clyde—except more like Clyde and his hotheaded, ex-con brother.

Credit: Studiocanal

But seriously, the villains (or, rather, the criminals) are fully developed and even sympathetic, to a point.

Even so, we can also relate with Marcus, who takes a very strategic approach to capturing the bank robbers. One that doesn’t always sit well with his partner, with whom Marcus has a fond (if somewhat fractious) relationship. Marcus, being the old-school sort, tends to not give a damn about political correctness. And Alberto—well, his name is Alberto. Take a guess how this comes across to him.

Given the overall serious theme of poor people trying to survive against the greedy banks, there are bits of levity that help keep the story from drifting into melodrama.

This scene is priceless!

I don’t want to reveal spoilers, but I will say that justice is done in a way that brings out the true feelings of each pair of characters for one another. It’s bittersweet and a bit open-ended. (I half expected Bridges to tip his Ranger cap and say, “Catch you later on down the trail.”)

I wholeheartedly recommend this film! 🙂

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This entry was posted in Crime Drama, Movie Reviews, Thriller, Westerns and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to My Review of ‘Hell or High Water’ (2016)

  1. Michael Eddy says:

    Nice review. Chris Pine does give Bridges an open invitation to discuss things further at his leisure. The (brilliant) script by actor turned writer Taylor Sheridan tiptoes on a very fine line in making the “heroes” slightly less than heroic and the “villains” a shade less than villainous. As you said, there is a method to their madness and until certain lines are crossed from which there is no going back – you have strong reasons to root for all concerned – which makes things problematic. Bridges, who has a chokehold on these sort of roles, plays the hell out of it. As does Birmingham as his partner. And Ben Foster just about steals every scene he’s in as the jailbird brother with the quicksilver temperment (“Then I’m a Comanche…”). Holding it all together with quiet intensity – Chris Pine – is terrific as the brother who tries to think first and not do anything crazy – but he’s caught up in the whirlwind. I loved this movie. Saw it 3X last year. In a field crowded with some exceptional work – it was my favorite film of 2016 (and I saw 104 of them).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Debbi says:

      Absolutely! 🙂 The writing, acting, all of it simply fantastic!

      Like

      • Michael Eddy says:

        Based on the success of HOHW (and probably his Oscar nomination for screenplay) – Sheridan is getting to direct his next script – WIND RIVER – can’t wait to see that one.

        Like

  2. Hi Debbie. Glad you enjoyed this film. I really love it and feel that here in the UK it was one that slipped under the radar somewhat. It deserves all the praise it’s received. I especially loved the relationship between Bridges and Gil Birmingham as his police partner. This is a moving and exciting film that is very much a modern Western.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Debbi says:

      Interesting. Are Westerns as popular in the UK as they are in US? Of course, I saw Breaker Morant, which deals with another country’s history, yet had a universal theme, so in a sense, what does it matter? 🙂

      In any case, I’m glad you enjoyed the film, too. Great chemistry between the actors and great script!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Westerns have their fans over here for sure. I don’t think it’s a genre that’s as culturally significant to us as it is to those in America. Obviously the west on the big screen was once a reality in that country, and I’d say these films speak more to Americans than anyone else. That having been said I think people worldwide can enjoy Westerns. Good adventure, wrongs being made right, and villains meeting the end they deserve, what’s not to like?

        Yeah this was certainly a great film. I liked how it was funny one moment and then sad the next.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael Eddy says:

        BREAKER MORANT!!! Another superb movie. I saw this Australian gem when I lived in LA. Have been raving about it ever since (and it’s been a while). I heard good things about it and knew almost nothing when I went to see it. Devastating. Right up there with the best of the courtroom dramas I’ve seen over the years. Loved Bryan Brown’s line when he’s chastised for sleeping with a married woman: “Slice of a cut loaf’s never missed”.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Debbi says:

      Well, now I have to watch Breaker Morant again! Oh, whoa is me. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Michael Eddy says:

        As I said – great courtroom drama. When you’ve re-watched it, you go go on to The Caine Mutiny, The Verdict, 12 Angry Men…

        Liked by 1 person

    • Debbi says:

      I’ve seen them all! They’re all great! 🙂 I’d add A Civil Action in, too. That was a great book, as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review on a great movie.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A lot of great reviews of this film – can’t believe I haven’t seen it yet! And a terrific cast, too. I think Chris Pine is a phenomenal actor.

    Liked by 1 person

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