Director: David Mackenzie
Starring: Ben Foster, Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges, Gil Birmingham
‘Hell or High Water’ has been one of my most anticipated films over the last few months. After what I personally consider to be a fairly disappointing summer of films, I held hope that there was still plenty to look forward to between now and the end of the year, and this film was one I had high expectations for. My high expectations emanated from the cast, which includes Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges, as well as boasting the writing skills of Taylor Sheridan, who also wrote ‘Sicario’, (which was one of my favourite films of last year). Not to mention, the incredible trailer that gave us a glimpse into the nature of the film.
Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster) are two Texan brothers who couldn’t be any more different. After Tanner’s release from prison, Toby devises a plan to rob branches of a large bank with the help of his older brother, despite being very wary of his brother’s brash personality and unpredictability. The bank branches they intend to steal from are part of a larger bank that is threatening to foreclose on Toby’s family home and land, which would leave his children with nothing. It’s not long before Texas Ranger Marcus (Jeff Bridges) and his partner Alberto (Gil Birmingham) are on the case. Marcus is more determined than ever to catch the culprits of these robberies so he can retire with a victory, but he soon learns it won’t be his easiest case.
Pine and Foster gave truly enthralling performances as the two brothers. We learn a lot about the nature of their relationship towards the beginning of the film, and see the strength of their brotherhood despite the big differences in their personalities and their attitudes and approach towards the bank robberies. This is by far my favourite performance from Pine, making sure the audience knew the motives behind his actions and even when he wasn’t saying anything, the audience could tell his brother, children and family were always at the forefront of his mind. His on-screen chemistry with Foster really shined, which is a far cry from seeing them both in ‘The Finest Hours’ earlier this year, which I was really disappointed by.
I really loved the scenes where Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham interacted with one another whilst on the case. Bridges’ character is so genuine, and I loved his friendship with his partner Alberto, who he regularly torments with racist jokes and non-stop talking. It brought a lighter tone to the film without compromising the actual seriousness and morally thought-provoking nature of the film. At times I found myself rooting for Toby and Tanner to successfully pull off their robberies and pay off their debts, and sometimes I wanted Bridges to catch them both and retire victorious, because he wants it so bad, and he is relentless when it comes to his investigation.
The film itself is moderately paced, but the performances and dialogue keep you engaged throughout the entire thing. The story flows very naturally and is a great example of how a film doesn’t need to overdose on action scenes, explosions and plot twists to keep the attention of the audience. The stunning Texas scenery gives the film that true “Western” feel, and we are treated to lots of shots of the landscape and breathtaking scenery that Texas has to offer, as the brothers and officers travel from town to town.
It’s hard to do this film justice in 600 words or so, but I highly recommend going to watching ‘Hell Or High Water’. The cast, cinematography, direction and script were all superb, and I feel (and hope) this film will do well come awards season. It’s criminal that this film isn’t getting the attention it truly deserves, with numbers at the US box office much lower than other films being released around the same time, despite glowing reviews from critics and viewers alike.