« x »



The Western genre has never truly disappeared from films since its decline after the ‘50s, and although it’s far away from its cowboy days, this specific genre continues to be utilised for more contemporary tales. Coming from director David Mackenzie who seems to approach a different genre with each of his films, Hell or High Water takes most of its influence from No Country for Old Men, but scaling down the darkness and bringing the humour up – it’s still an often intense and sometimes fierce crime-thriller-drama, but it delves into dark comedy whenever it gets the opportunity.

Tanner (Ben Foster) has just gotten out of jail after a year’s stint. His mother has just died and he and his brother Toby (Chris Pine) have a few debts to somehow pay off. So, the two brothers have got no better plan but to rob a few banks. It seems easy enough in the small town communities they live near, but they hatch a plan to steal from more populated banks so they can actually get the amount of money they need. Unbeknownst to them are the police hot on their tail, lead by dedicated workers Marcus (Jeff Bridges) and Alberto (Gil Barmingham) who try to anticipate the bank-burglar brothers’ next movements.

This is a fairly straight-forward plot that never overcomplicates things for itself, all the while subtly matching the story’s money-driven tone to the current economic state of the USA – the time for bank robbery crime films has never been so palpable, especially when they end up challenging conventional moral codes like this film does. This kind of modestly budgeted entertainment means every aspect of the filmmaking is fine-tuned, with a strong screenplay from Taylor Sheridan who flaunts both the drama and the comedy of a story like this. The actors on board make the most with their roles and this is some of the most dedicated performances from Pine, Foster, and Bridges. The cinematography is also often impressive, with Mackenzie allowing panoramic master shots whenever he can to get the biggest scope of the landscapes of the sleepy small towns and the outback that surrounds them.

With a healthy dose of shoot-outs and getaway scenes added to the mix, Hell or High Water is hard not to enjoy. Its lasting impact may vary from person to person as this is a carefully paced film with nothing too grandiose in its story-telling or cinematic appeal, though it’s another satisfying film that’s neither a blockbuster nor an awards contender, but it may be better than either.


« x »