Hell or High Water is directed by David Mackenzie and stars Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges, and Gil Birmingham. The movie is about two brothers attempting to rob many of the smaller banks around Texas, while two veteran sheriffs are attempting to hunt them down in the process.
As Oscar season comes closer, there will probably be many films I review that you have never even heard of. This movie may be one of those, but I was incredibly excited to see this movie, as the trailers seemed intriguing, as did the cast, and with the buzz surrounding this film, I came in looking for something great.
The acting performances in this film are through the roof, with each and every actor giving spectacular performances from beginning to end. I’ll start with the sheriffs, as both Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham are great in their roles. Birmingham is mostly there for his banter with Bridges, but even in that he is great, as the two constantly go back and forth, and their chemistry while doing it is undeniable. Bridges was my absolute favorite performance of the film, as he does everything right as the head sheriff. Bridges is funny, dramatic, and overall just feels so real in his role, and I truly could not get enough of his performance, which is saying something considering how good each and every lead is in this movie.
Chris Pine and Ben Foster are both terrific as the Howard brothers. Foster is the more explosive brother, which sometimes felt over the top, but for the most part, he does it very well, and while showing a healthy relationship with his brother. Pine, on the other hand, is much more subdued, and because of that, he is the character that we relate to the most. Pine is brilliant in this movie, giving the best performance of his career, but what makes him so good is his chemistry with Foster. The two go back and forth constantly, but with each conversation, we learn more about how each of them works and why they are doing what they are doing, and it is superbly done by director David Mackenzie.
Mackenzie does an excellent job with the direction of this film, because, on the surface, this could have been a typical heist thriller. What this movie ends up being is anything but that, as Mackenzie blends drama, comedy, and suspense into one beautifully done story, and while at the same time entirely developing each and every character to make them feel like real people with real motives.
From a filmmaking standpoint, this movie is gorgeous, with both the excellent score and beautiful cinematography backing up the outstanding story this film has to tell. Taylor Sheridan, the screenwriter of this film and also 2015’s Sicario, is truly a brilliant writer. He fills this film with such life and realism, and so nails everything about the atmosphere that I think he could legitimately be in contention for an award this Oscar season.
What makes this movie so good is how unique it feels. This is much more a drama than it is an action thriller, but that is not a bad thing by any means. I found myself enthralled in the events that take place because each character is constantly growing and developing along with the plot, and by the end of the film I truly felt I had a full picture of each and every character that I needed to, and that is rare to see in a film these days.
While it is more drama than action, the action scenes are brutally real and perfectly executed. Each and every bank robbery is gritty and feels incredibly accurate, and it just added more to the whole story because of it. Towards the end of the movie, there is a larger action scene that also feels real while at the same time raising the stakes to a maximum, and I thought it was executed very well.
From front to back, this movie doesn’t have one scene that feels unnecessary, not one moment that is wasted. Both sets of characters are equally crucial to the story, and both their motives and stories are put on the table to the audience, and I found myself invested in both equally.
While at first, I thought some character’s motives were confusing, I think that is sort of the point. These characters aren’t geniuses, in fact, some of them may be considered dumb, but each are doing what they think they need to do to have a better life in the long run, and by the end, I don’t remember a time where I cared so much about both sides of a conflict.
Hell or High Water may not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you come in expecting loads of action, but for me, this is more than I could have ever wanted. The performances are through the roof, the direction and script are flawless, and the way this story is told is a work of art. There are so many layers and moments that it’s hard to truly explain why it all works, it just does. Each scene feels more important than the next, and by the time the credits rolled, I couldn’t get a smile off my face. Hell or High Water breaks the nearly four-month slump, as I can truly say I have not one flaw in this film.
What did you think of Hell or High Water? Comment below with what you thought.