Hell or High Water
It’s hard to capture deep America; it’s an area where small amounts of people live with a lot of space. It’s the America that hasn’t changed for the past twenty years, and the ones that are protesting through Republican candidate Donald Trump for being shunted and ignored. Hell or High Water takes a look at this America today, and mourns how its way of life is fading.
Hell or High Water in the simplest of terms is a film about two brothers who rob banks. Chris Pine and Ben Foster play the brothers; Pine’s character is the more composed of the two, while Foster is an unhinged psychopath. The brothers are forced to go about robbing banks in order to save their family’s land from being foreclosed. An old and grumpy Texas Ranger played by Jeff Bridges is on their scent trying to catch them.
Essentially the villain in this film is not any of the characters, but the banks from which the titular characters are stealing. The banks are portrayed as the invaders that are taking away locals’ lands and consuming the American west’s way of life. It’s certainly an interesting perspective since the subject of banks and their overreaching power has become ubiquitous in today’s political conversation.
Director David Mackenzie and screenwriter Taylor Sheridan take their time to show us the suffering of their characters through a very realistic tone, something that isn’t common with many movies today. This sense of realism does cause some problems, such as slow pacing in some parts; but thankfully there is an ending sequence that has you on the edge of your seat, focused in the form of classic western shootout.
The cast is kept small, and because of it the actors have the chance to become more intimate with the audience. The big star in the film poster is Chris Pine (Star Trek), and he gives a fine performance, but the man deserving all the praise is Ben Foster, an actor who finally found the perfect role to unleash his intense acting style. Jeff Bridges also is great in the film, and is clearly having a lot of fun playing the familiar gruff enforcer of the law (seen previously most notably in True Grit); his relationship with his Texas Ranger partner played by Gil Birmingham is so subtly written that it’s one of the most touching and best parts of the film.
In the end, Hell or High Water is a terrifically made poem about the dying American west. The great artists both in front and behind the camera, make this film an instant classic, and while it may have some pacing issues, Hell or High Water is certainly one of the best pictures of the year.