Hell or High Water

Hell or High Water

(David MacKenzie, 2016)

Rating: 4/5

Reviewed by Dave Lancaster

Summary
: A down and dirty crime picture that owes much to 1970s American independent cinema, Hell or High Water hits the mark.




After delivering a riveting, well acted and emotionally heavy prison drama in Starred Up, director David MacKenzie has taken those traits and infused them into a big sky Texan crime thriller with absorbing results.

Hell or High Water sees Jeff Bridges get first billing in the cast but really it's Chris Pine and Ben Foster leading the show as two disparate and desperate brothers who have turned to robbing banks.

Toby (Pine) is the sensible, quiet one who needs the money to secure his family's future so they don't end up like him while Tanner (Foster) is the wild card of the family. He could have a million in the bank but he'd still go out and steal a grand for the thrill. Naturally, their scheme of knocking over small banks and burying their getaway car soon begins to unravel when Tanner starts taking larger risks. Enter a seen it all Texas ranger (Bridges) who is determined to see them brought to cause.



In terms of plot points, that's about it. Hell or High Water is a curiously flat picture that becomes quietly devastating as the minutes roll by and the characters mature. All three stars give knockout performances but it's Pine who is the revelation here, offering real depth and some kind of raw energy that recalls Brando. While it's Bridges who is scooping up all the awards recognition (he's always fantastic), Pine is the anchor of the film.

Tonally, MacKenzie is recalling pictures like All The President's Men, Taxi Driver, The Conversation and The French Connection. You can almost feel the film grain etching itself into the screen. Brad Pitt vehicle Killing Them Softly had a similar vibe a few years back so if you enjoyed that be sure to check this one out too.

 

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