Desperate times. So this is about a pair of brothers in West Texas (Chris Pine, Ben Foster). They’re not professional criminals, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are robbing small banks so as to raise the money needed to save their family ranch. I love a good crime story. The easiest way to make this type of story accessible is to make the criminals intelligent, but novices. This way, you, as an audience member, can put yourself in the shoes of the protagonist, and you can picture yourself being able to pull off a heist if you ever became all out of options in your own life. Hell or High Water does exactly that, and this is a riveting and compelling crime drama.
Running around, robbing banks.
Now this is not a very complicated story. It’s men at the end of their rope, being forced into a crime that they otherwise wouldn’t commit, all the while the law moves in closer and closer. What makes this movie so good and the reason why this is being considered for Academy Awards is due to all of the attention to detail. This is the most Texas movie since There Will Be Blood, and after all is said and done, you really feel like you’ve taken a personal trip to the state where everything’s bigger, and not to its nicer, more progressive side. I feel like I learned two things about Texas from this movie, the first item being that open carry is in full effect, and everybody in Texas is packing. It helps add to tension in scenes being that you know that so many civilians could potentially pull out a gun and make the situation go from bad to worse. The second item is that everyone’s a little bit racist in this state. Jeff Bridges gives a terrific performance as a Texan detective that is close to retirement. He still has a little bit of that True Grit accent left over, and every other sentence out of his mouth is something racially offensive, which isn’t aided by the fact that he has a Native American partner. It’s almost on that level of Gran Torino where you’re unsure if this is a man who just thinks racial humor is funny, or if he could potentially be the biggest racist you’ve ever laid eyes on.
It’s a question that I will leave to the scientists.
This movie would pair terrifically with No Country for Old Men. It is well made and character driven, and you are always interested in how it will play out. It’s all about just how quickly a simple plan can go south, and you’re rooting for these guys to succeed in addition to rooting for Jeff Bridges to catch them, so it makes for an intriguing dynamic. There’s some very appropriate music featured from Nick Cave, and every time there is a showdown, you hold your breath. It’s a good, simple movie, and I will always love a movie for getting the terrific Ben Foster more work.
Hell or High Water (2016) ****
– Critic for Hire
Want to see where this fell in my list of best films of the 2016? See for yourself here.