MOVIE REVIEW: Hell or High Water

Crime drama starring Chris Pine and Ben Foster as Brothers who turn to bank robbery in order to dig themselves out of their financial troubles. Hot on their trail is a Texas Ranger, played by Jeff Bridges, who is close to retirement and his partner. As the story unfolds we find out the deeper reasons for the bank robberies and the relationship between the brothers isn’t fully what it seems.

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t watch trailers and don’t read too much if anything at all about the films I’m going to see before I see them. So the most I knew about Hell or High Water was the three main stars and that was enough for me. If I wasn’t reviewing films for the tonnes of cash that we get I’d probably go see this film for just the pulling power of the performers. What you have with this film is not just one of the best films of the year but the best crime drama in years.

Hell-or-High-Water-2-620x465Two Brothers who have been estranged due to one being locked behind bars for 10 years are on a strict timetable to make enough money in four days to keep their family ranch from being repossessed by the banks. They aren’t the criminals that they should be but they have a plan and are managing to keep one step ahead of the Texas Rangers. They are only hitting one particular Company’s bank and you think it’s because of the lack of resources that this company is spending on their security for their small branches. This string of robberies catches the attention of Texas Ranger Jeff Bridges and his Partner, these two law men set out to find the men behind the robberies. The story is simple enough and we’ve seen it before, but what is different this time is the social commentary on small rural towns, the depth of the story with the brothers and the law men, and a script which just keeps you gripped with the relationships and the action.

There are few films that come out that make you just want to turn around and go see them again, and very few crime dramas which can hold your attention the way Hell or High Water does. This film is up there with The Departed for me. You have Chris Pine as the brother with the plan, who you feel has tried to work with the system for his whole life but is smart enough to know what the banks are capable for. They have gotten into debt with their departed Mothers illness meaning a huge mortgage on their ranch and this is the way out. Pine plays Toby with a laser focus, he knows that he may not finish what they are doing, but wants to complete this chain of robberies for his boys. This is the best role that Pine has had and in my opinion his finest performance ever. Next to Pine you have Ben Foster as Tanner, the black sheep of the family, who we find out killed their abusive Father in what people believe was a hunting accident. Foster is your go to guy for an on the edge character but he manages to give this character a lot more than just an unbalanced nature, you understand how he is as he is, and again this for me is his best role. There is a natural chemistry between the two actors that makes you feel their brotherly bond is real.download

Chasing the brothers is ageing law man Marcus, played by Jeff Bridges, just three weeks from mandatory retirement, something that it’s obvious he’d rather not do. This character is a classic Western law man, not afraid to say what he wants to say. Bridges can play these roles in his sleep, so you know you are getting a steady hand at the wheel, and it’s just one of the best performances of the year. His partner is played by Gil Birmingham and they have a great relationship which is built on respect, Birmingham plays Alberto with a feeling of ‘Lets just get through the next three weeks and then I’ll be done with this idiot’ against the respect he has for his colleague.

Crime dramas don’t come better than this. What you think is going on during most of the film is turned on its head towards the end, superbly written and executed by all involved, making the social commentary that it does without being preachy. The Director manages to get performances from stars that you never thought possible. Through the film I was thinking of this as an excellent piece of cinema and one of the better films of the year. But it’s only when it comes to the finale that it raises the bar, when each character comes to the end of their story. The final scene between Bridges and Pine is one the most tense and wonderfully written endings I’ve ever seen in the cinema. I cannot recommend this film enough to you, do what you can to see this in cinemas, if ever there was a film that is worth your cinema cash this is it. I would not be shocked, I’ll probably retreat into a bottle of Jack Daniels, if this film is nominated highly in awards season. Trust me if you are a fan of crime drama and just good movies in general this will not disappoint!

Director: David Mackenzie
Writer: Taylor Sheridan
Stars: Dale Dickey, Ben Foster, Chris Pine

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