Hell or High Water

"Excellent"

Hell or High Water Review


Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while grappling meaningfully with some very big topics. Set in present-day America, it's a story for today's social climate, but it feels like a classic Western in the way a pair of desperado bank robbers are pursued by a sly detective. It's also beautifully directed and skilfully acted to pull the audience all the way in.

In rural Texas, Tanner (Ben Foster) has just been released from prison when he agrees to help his brother Toby (Chris Pine) stage a series of small bank robberies to earn enough cash to guarantee a future for Toby's sons. Their mother has only recently died, and both are feeling a sense of pointlessness about life, willing to risk everything for a shot at something. But while Toby plans the heists carefully, Tanner is a hothead who continually attracts attention. Sure enough, Ranger Marcus (Jeff Bridges) catches their scent, working with his loyal but sarcastic partner Alberto (Gil Birmingham) to try to get one step ahead of the crimes. And since he's not looking forward to his impending retirement, Marcus is in no hurry.

Thankfully, director David Mackenzie (Starred Up) is in no hurry either, steadily building the suspense with each step in the story, keeping the focus tightly on the characters. This means that several scenes are breathlessly intense. There are so many intriguing things going on here that the film nearly bursts with resonance, from the old-versus-new world themes to the economic reality that has put Toby in this mess to begin with, and the corporate greed that's offering him a way out. Pine and Foster are perfectly cast in these roles, and both deliver layered performances that suggest at a more complex back-story than the one we learn. Opposite them, Bridges is the picture of calm, a terrific role that he seems to glide through effortlessly. But this is a carefully gauged performance that nails the tricky balance between tenacity, intelligence and grit.

Every scene bristles with comedy and suspense, and the atmosphere is further enhanced by a moody score and wonderfully evocative songs by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. These perfectly reflect the scorched-earth quality of this time and place, as life seems to have come off the rails, hope seems to have vanished, and it's worth trying anything that has even a small chance of succeeding. Which of course defines people so desperate that they'd consider shaking up the system by voting for someone like Donald Trump.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for Hell Or High Water:



Hell or High Water

Facts and Figures

Genre: Thriller

Run time: 102 mins

In Theaters: Friday 12th August 2016

Box Office USA: $3,551,931.00

Distributed by: Film 44

Production compaines: Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Film 44

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 99%
Fresh: 134 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 7.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , , Carla Hacken, Julie Yorn

Starring: as Toby Howard, as Marcus Hamilton, as Tanner Howard, as Jenny Ann, as Elsie, as Billy Rayburn, as Alberto Parker, as Debbie Howard, Melanie Papalia as Emily (uncredited), Lora Martinez-Cunningham as Neighbor (uncredited), as Old Man, Amber Midthunder as Vernon Teller, Alma Sisneros as Clerk, Gregory Cruz as Bear, as Road Block Trooper, Crystal Gonzales as Woman at Casino (uncredited), J. Nathan Simmons as Casino Patron (uncredited), John-Paul Howard as Justin Howard, Ricky Lee as Casino Pit Boss (uncredited), Terry Dale Parks as Ranger (uncredited), Howard Ferguson Jr. as Vernon PD Officer, Debrianna Mansini as Vernon Diner Waitress, Martin Palmer as Colman Resident (uncredited), Christopher W. Garcia as Randy Howard, Danny Winn as Trooper Bruno (uncredited), Richard Beal as Casino Patron (uncredited), William Sterchi as Mr. Clauson, Taylor Sheridan as Cowboy

Also starring: ,

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