Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Film Review: Hell or High Water (2016)

Hell or High Water (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed for Review: Showtime
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"It can make you laugh one moment, push you to the edge of your seat during another, then shatter your heart during the next."

A divorced father and his ex-con brother rob banks in a desperate attempt to save their family's ranch...

Hell or High Water is a neo-Western. I'm not a big fan of the classic Western formula, but I have loved some of the newer additions/remixes to the genre, such as Bone Tomahawk and Unforgiven. This film is one of the few that I actually loved. The plot follows a divorced father, Toby Howard (Chris Pine), and his ex-con older brother, Tanner (Ben Foster). Their family ranch is at risk of being foreclosed due to debt caused by a reversed mortgage. So, Toby and Tanner start robbing a specific set of banks. The robberies are well planned by Toby, but Tanner's wild attitude often derails them. Meanwhile, two Texas rangers, Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and Alberto Parker, follow their trail. There is a lot more to the plot, obviously, but there's no point in spoiling it. It leads to a great, satisfying ending.

Hell or High Water was a fantastic experience. It's just a fun, refreshing ride from beginning to end. Okay, the film isn't a laugh-your-ass-off romp, it does have some dark and compelling themes, but it is ultimately very exciting stuff. It can make you laugh one moment, push you to the edge of your seat during another, then shatter your heart during the next. Hell, I'd even say it's downright tragic as a whole. The plot is driven by its provocative situation and its compelling characters. You actually care about these people and that's something you can't really say about a lot of movies these days. And, of course, there is also plenty of action in this film. Some chase scenes, some shootouts, some tense standoffs... It's all masterfully executed to create some very suspenseful scenes.

The acting is superb. The performances are excellent. Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges are fantastic, and Ben Foster is in the zone. All of the actors perfectly fill the shoes of their characters. The film was beautifully shot, too. The camerawork is especially impressive. I loved it. The music, original and otherwise, perfectly matched the tone/setting of the film. The film was written by Taylor Sheridan and directed by David Mackenzie. The writing and direction were both tight and effective. Sheridan and Mackenzie clearly work well together, creating a very compelling movie filled with humor, action, and tragedy.

Overall, Hell or High Water is superb film. If this is what we can expect from upcoming neo-Westerns, I'm all in on the genre. I only give it a nine out of ten instead of a ten because I personally love Sicario more—and, if I understand correctly, Sicario and Hell or High Water are part of the same 'spiritual' trilogy. Otherwise, this is fantastic film and it shouldn't be missed.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Violence and blood, some sex.

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