In one of the last movie outings of the summer, I turned to the one that has generated a lot of buzz in past month. It’s only getting a limited release in certain theaters and I was fortunate enough to find a showing nearby to check it out. So come hell or high water, let’s break this one down.
Hell or High Water is directed by David McKenzie and stars Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster, and Gil Birmingham, so there’s quite a bit of star power for a small indie film. A divorced dad (Pine) and his ex-con, rebel brother (Foster), resort to robbing small banks in a modern day, western Texas in attempt to save their family farm while the law is hot on their tails to stop them.
This movie, for me at least, really came out of nowhere. I had no idea this was a film until last week when I just read somewhere it was suppose to be good. And oh it’s good. Not only it is good, it’s actually really damn good. Without question, this is one of the best directed and best acted movies of 2016.
The relationship between Pine & Foster’s characters comes off as very genuine, they talk and feel like actual brothers. Through their interactions with one another to their dialogue, something about their chemistry feels casual in good way. Not only are both actors firing on all cylinders in terms of good acting, but it’s the writing that really drives their performances through the story and makes you care about what could happen to them if they continue on this path of crime.
I know we’re a little ways away from Oscar season, but seriously give The Dude a nomination, because this is the best I’ve seen Jeff Bridges in a long time. Bridges’ character is a veteran Texas sheriff that’s seen a lot of stuff in his day and wants one more thrill ride before he hangs up the hat. Bridges does such a great job of portraying this old, grizzled outlaw. There’s really no nonsense about him, he knows how criminals think and he’s always a step ahead of the robbers. Not to mention, he has some of the best dialogue in the movie that only a seasoned actor like Bridges can deliver.
This movie is not only thrilling, but it’s got a surprising amount of witty, smart humor. A lot of the comedic beats work because, just like the movie’s characters, comes off as very natural. The comedy comes in small bites during conversations between the characters and the beats are just nonchalantly throw in, much like how real life people would talk and react with each other.
The best part of this story is the cat and mouse chase dynamic between the robbers and the law. If you see this film, you’ll find yourself rooting for both sides. The movie does a great job of making the audience care about Pine & Foster’s characters even when they’re the ones in the wrong. There’s times where I was rooting for them to escape without a scratch. Ultimately, I did find myself going back to the side of the law and Bridges’ character, wanting him to catch them.
The only real issue I could see audiences having with this movie is that, it starts off as a slow burner. The beginning takes some time to get invested because of its dialogue-heavy scene work. For me, it didn’t take that long to get interested, but I can definitely understand someone thinking “well when’s something going to happen?”
However, once you’re in, the plot continues to kick it to the next gear at every turn. The story by the second act is just building and building tension, intrigue, and suspense for what looks to be real life people in realistic situations with the law.
In the end, Hell or High Water is one of the few best, sleeper films of the summer and 2016 as a whole. Admittedly, nothing is really innovative about this film, but it’s how it’s executed that makes it so good. It’s a fun, edgy, thrill ride with top-notch performances from its stellar cast, great directing, well-written, and as real as a movie could get.
I’m going to give Hell or High Water an “A-” on the movie grading scale. If you can, seek out this film and give it a watch. After seeing it, you might want to stay away from western Texas, at least that’s what I’m thinking, something tells me they don’t mess around. Bang, bang.
As always, thanks so much for reading and make sure to stay posted to Frank’s Takes for more reviews. Until next time, keep it 100.