Release date: 9th September 2016/Watch the trailer here
Hell or High Water, from director David Mackenzie, tells the story of a divorced father, Toby (Chris Pine), and his ex-con brother Tanner (Ben Foster), who resort to a desperate scheme of robbing the banks of West Texas in order to save their family ranch. No-nonsense Texas Ranger Marcus (Jeff Bridges) is the man who’s after them – along with his partner, Alberto (Gil Birmingham) – keen for one final case to stave off his mandatory retirement for a little while longer.
It’s a simple story and one that has been told many, many times before in one way or another, but it’s this simplicity that makes Hell or High Water such an effectively good film.
It’s a slow burner; all the better to take in some beautiful cinematography and enjoy an original soundtrack by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. When the action finally begins at some point during the third act, the pay off is well worth it. Hell or High Water‘s action is exciting and, at times, shocking; it culminates in a throwback shootout set against a sun-baked backdrop.
Of course, it wouldn’t be such an effective film if it wasn’t for the actors who bring it to life. Jeff Bridges is as excellent as one would expect, while Pine and Foster have a chemistry that is magnetic as brothers. Many of the minor roles in the film are played by locals rather than actors, which lends to the air of genuine authenticity that Hell or High Water has.
It’s this authenticity that makes West Texas – a location that has certainly been featured in films before – feel like somewhere that is completely foreign, all the while maintaining a deceptively quiet, old-fashioned atmosphere.
Hell or High Water may tread familiar ground, but it’s a film that somehow manages to be fun and exciting while also being dark and gritty, all at once: the age-old genre tropes don’t really matter when they’re as well-executed as this.