Hell or High Water
review by Bobby Blakey
There are movies that when you see the trailer there is just something about them that makes you feel like it’s going to be something special. Often times they have some of the most basic principles, but offer up so much more. When I saw the trailer for Hell or High Water I instantly was interested, but really couldn’t figure out why outside of the great cast including Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges, and Gil Birmingham. Could this be one of those movies that is something more than it seems or will it be a failed attempt at breaking the bank?
Hell or High Water follows a divorced dad and his ex-con brother resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family's ranch in West Texas. While there isn’t anything all that new here, director David Mackenzie manages to still craft a film that is engaging and entertaining from beginning to end. The story is really simple and doesn’t offer up any twists or turns, but instead a pretty straight forward premise that allows the performances and characters themselves to drive the film into success. There is a simplistic gritty Texas feel to it all that makes the world around them a character in itself without trying to overshadow what is happening. Everyone in the cast is excellent with Bridges bringing his usual gruff cowboy persona to his character who is actually pretty crass, but you can’t help enjoying his character. There is a love hate relationship between he and his partner played by Gil Birmingham that up some laughs, but also some cringe worthy witty racist banter making you wonder how they could even be around each other. This makes Bridges character kind of a jerk for the most part, but has a bit of a redeeming quality late in the film that showcases his true feelings.
While Bridges is amazing as always it’s the brothers played by Pine and Foster that steal the show. Fans have gotten used to seeing Pine as the pretty boy leading man who doesn’t often get much to do outside of his usual charm, but here he is a whole different kind of character. This role takes him down a darker path for the best of reasons, but still clings onto the person who the audience can relate to. He has a wide range of emotions and downtrodden look that showcases the struggles in life he has been dealt. On the flip side is Foster as his ex-con border lined crazed brother. I have always felt the Foster is an underrated actor and he showcases his brilliance once again in this role. He has made a career of playing some crazed people, but here he is a bit older and rough around the edges, but still brings that much need depth to the character and his glimmer of love needed to showcase their relationship.
This is far from an action movie, but there are some great shootouts here with some playing up the rise in average citizens packing heat in Texas in the best way. The action is fun, but this is a character piece that offers up everything needed to make the perfect film about real people doing real bad things. I loved this movie on every level and highly recommend you check it out and give it the support it deserves, but films like this rarely receive. This isn’t the high octane big budget films that make all the money, but instead precise character driven filmmaking that reminds you why we love movies in the first place.