Hell or High Water (2016) – Review

Out in rural West Texas, two brothers, reeling from the death of their mother, face the agonising prospect of losing their family ranch to the Texas Midlands Bank. Toby Howard (Chris Pine) hatches a plan, along with Tanner Howard (Ben Foster), which sees the pair team up to rob different branches of the bank, hoping to raise enough cash to keep the home. Meanwhile, two Texas Rangers make it their mission to prevent the thieves from causing more carnage in their hometown. Hell or High Water is a widely acclaimed thriller that was originally released in 2016.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Director: David Mackenzie
Writers: Taylor Sheridan
Starring: Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges, Gil Birmingham

“Come hell or high water”, a phrase which typically means “do whatever needs to be done, no matter the circumstances” resonates well throughout this incredible cat and mouse, heist movie, directed by David Mackenzie. From the very first minute, the filmmakers managed to set the tone with some effective and high-octane scenes, along with some very engaging and equally as intelligent dialogue too.

The setting of the film, coupled with the beautiful cinematography, was most certainly one of the center pieces throughout the one-hour forty-two-minute runtime. The setting, which was depicted as Western Texas, but actually filmed on location in New Mexico, painted a bleak, desolate, old-school feel, with the movie also bringing a modern-day western vibe to proceedings. For sure, there were some outdated references to native Indians, along with some light comedy in patches, as well as lots of engaging characters and absurd violence too.

Other notable traits worth highlighting would be the costume design, which was near perfect from start to finish, and the soundtrack, which was stunningly fitting for a film of this nature. The soundtrack, which consisted of tracks performed by Chris Stapleton, Nick Cave, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Waylon Jennings and many more, are worthy of repeat listening.

In terms of the cast, Chris Pine and Ben Foster spearheaded a large majority of the film, portraying the mischievous, but at times charming, Howard brothers. Jeff Bridges meanwhile starred as Marcus Hamilton, one of the two Texas Rangers after the duo, while Gil Birmingham adopted the role of Alberto Parker, the second Texas Ranger chasing the pair. Elsewhere, less prominent roles were handed to Dale Dickey and Katy Mixon, who portrayed Elsie and Jenny Ann respectively.

Overall, Hell or High Water is a flick I recommend highly, especially for those that are sustainable to not so typical heist movies, which feature rural America is its fully glory. 2016 was an amazing year for cinematic releases and it could be argued that this one was the very best of them all.

“I’ve been poor my whole life, like a disease passing from generation to generation.”

Tony Howard – Hell or High Water

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