Hell or High Water
Release Year: 2016
Director: David Mackenzie
Writer: Taylor Sheridan
Starring: Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges, Gil Birmingham, Marin Ireland, Katy Mixon, Dale Dickey, Kevin Rankin
Rating: Nominated for 4 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Jeff Bridges), Best Editing. Nominated for 3 Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Jeff Bridges). Nominated for one prize at Cannes: Un Certain Regard.
A divorced father enlists the help of his ex-con younger brother for a series of banrobberies to save the family farm only to find a soon-to-be-retired Texas Ranger on their heels.
For those who love Western genre, a film like Hell or High Water is a reason for renewed hope in a revival of the genre. Hell or High Water, directed by David Mackenzie (Perfect Sense, 2011), is best described as a neo-western; set in West Texas and evoking many classic Western themes, it does so as a crime movie with a Western “feel” thus showcasing how to do the Western genre in a contemporary setting. Pine (Unstoppable, 2010) and Foster (3:10 to Yuma, 2007) star as the brothers Toby and Tanner who decide to rob just enough money from small town banks to pay out their debt so Toby can provide a better life for his estranged son. The two are very different, Toby clever and on the level, Tanner unpredictable with a career in crime, and it is a credit to both the actors and the writer that their relationhip feels to realistic and brotherly. In the fact, the film is packed with fully fleshed out characters and noone is painted as a “villain” or staight out “good guy”. That goes for the men of the law as well. Bridges (True Grit, 2010) is great as Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton who is more than capable at his job, likes to make his partner (Gil Birmingham) the butt of his racist jokes, and is worried about what he is going to do with himself when he retires. Bridges just fits so wonderfully in the “western” environment and I can only wish he would do more films like this and Crazy Heart (2009). With great characters, a good story, a beautifully realised setting and lots of meat on the thematic bones, this is a rather wonderful film that we can only recommend highly.
Even though the film is set in West Texas no scenes were actually shot there. Instead the film was shot in New Mexico, partly in the Alamogordo Valley in Eastern New Mexico.
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