A western-noir with deep cuts and loaded with a great plot. May not be everyone but whoever has to patience for it, will be richly rewarded.
OVERALL SCORE – 4/5
Hell or High Water is a 2016 western-noir crime-drama directed by David McKenzie, written by Taylor Sheridan and stars Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges. The film explores the relationship between two bank robbing brothers and the lawman who attempts to bring them down.
This is a good film. It is a well written film, a well acted film and a well directed film. The film takes his time to tell its story, not because its boring but because it has a good deal of story to tell. The film has some of the most crackling dialogue I have seen in a while. The actors who deliver it know the material they have is really good and they go full steam into the roles they portray. The sweeping shots of the empty New Mexico desert landscape almost acts as a character in itself. It shows the audience that this is not a city with bright lights and constant noise, it is a small town with a many old-timey people. But it does not take away from a big themes the film presents. The themes are accentuated by the setting they are presented in.
Chris Pine acts as a three-dimensional foil to an eye-catching performance by Ben Foster. Ben Foster owns every frame he is in, given he has the showier role. The dynamic between the two brothers is very well realized and the men are not portrayed are stupid just because they originate from Middle America so to speak. This reminds me, personally, of Ben Foster in Inferno and how poorly his skills were used in that dud of a film. Jeff Bridges and his partner, played by Gil Birmingham, are men who take the audience back to the non-PC environment Clint Eastwood advocates. The mutual respect they share is obvious on-screen even if their constant ribbing might suggest otherwise. The devil is in the details however. The true character moments are the small ones. 2 to 3 second shots of the actors show them in their true form and show their motivations better than the expertly written dialogue. There are no heroes or villains here. There are only people, people who are hurt, damaged and trying to build themselves up using everything they know.
The sole knock on the film might be the lack of a single memorable scene. The film flows like a gentle stream of water, given there is not a lot of it on-screen. The gentleness however makes way and shows the dangerous undercurrents, by the third act, which have been building slowly but surely.
This is a really smart film with a taut script and winning performances. It might not appeal to every single audience member because of its languid pace. But to anyone who takes the time to look into the film, you are stumbling onto a true gem of a film.
OVERALL SCORE – 4/5