November 21, 2016

Movie Review: Hell or High Water 4.5 Stars


Hell or High Water

One of the Best Movies of 2016. Highly Recommended 4.5 Stars.

Some movies you know what’s going on as you watch the story unfold. And other movies, like this one, the final piece of the puzzle makes it clear what the story is all about and what drove them to commit these robberies. And I was pleased when it dawned on me the true motivations of the main characters.

It is also a movie where the initial trailer didn’t ‘grab’ me at all but after watching Hell or High Water; I enjoyed it immensely and feel this is one of the Best Movies of 2016.

Brothers, Toby and Tanner, travel West Texas targeting the branches of a certain bank. They are meticulous to cover their trail and they seem to have a purpose for their haphazard criminal activity and gambling (which is unclear for most of the movie). All we get is the cryptic phrase: “Because you asked, little brother.” And a lawyer telling them the same bank has kept their family poor and has been trying to ‘swipe’ their mother’s land for years.

The performance of the leading actors: Chris Pyne and Ben Foster, is excellent. The viewer doesn’t doubt they’re brothers with their nuances of mutual sibling care looking out for each other. It’s apparent they have had it tough. They are poor rural men who grew up in an abusive troubled home with dysfunctional parents. On top of this they have the bank ready to foreclose on their family home.

On their trail are two Texan Rangers. The eldest one, Marcus (played by Jeff Bridges) nearing retirement, occasionally shares racist jokes with his patient, yet tolerant, mixed heritage native American partner Alberto (played by Gil Birmingham); who takes his eldest partner’s ribbing in a good humoured way rather than being anything nasty. Marcus wants to go out on top and end this seemingly amateur pair of ski-masked clad young criminals. He soon works out their modus operandi and feels he knows where they will strike next; they lie in wait.

What perplexes the authorities are the bank robbers’ motivations. Is it mindless greed? or, is it alcohol/drug -induced cowboys looking for a thrill, hoping to live fast, die young and go out in a blaze of glory; no one is entirely sure.

Hell or High Water is a great story that unfolds perfectly at a nice pace. The cinematography of the arid country scenery gives you a feel for the wide-open spaces of this region of the country. The soundtrack is also a highlight- good country melodies that compliment the story and scenery in good measure. The Australian musician Nick Cave, who has contributed to a few movies over the years, does a terrific job. I’ll be buying the soundtrack.

I wouldn’t call this a typical Anti-Hero movie because there is an element of idealism and issues of morality interwoven in the story. However, this is a movie where the viewer needs to appreciate ambiguity; meaning we see the world through the ‘bad guy’s eyes.’ And understand the plight of many people in rural America. And their acrimonious relationship with the banks; who seem to prey on poverty stricken rural families, quick to foreclose on defaulting mortgages and acquire their land. The bank is equated with a colonizer who colonizes both white and Native Americans in equal measure. By the end of the movie, a seemingly just result makes this a truly satisfying movie.

Directed by David Mackenzie

Written by Taylor Sheridan.

Well Worth Seeing. I gave it 4.5 Stars.

Take Care & Cheers



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