Hell or High Water


                                                                   A Hell of a Good Film

Hell or high Water may not have the most original of storylines, but it is a  finely crafted thriller, with excellent acting, a well-written script and sharp direction. I am a sucker for road movies where the protagonists hit the backstreets of America, in search of something better than where they are. There is a  freeing in these stories; something Easy Rider hit upon many moons ago. Whether they are escaping the law, heading back home, or just looking for somewhere better than where they were, these movies, I think hit a common nerve for so many of us looking for more.

Set in West Texas, where the local banks are foreclosing on the people with little, Hell or High Water starts right off with a couple of masked men hitting small banks, early in the morning, where they only take the loose cash in the draws and not from any of the people who are there in the place when it's robbed. There are many shots of highway signs advertising bank loans and many of homes up for sale.  It is very apparent that they are doing this for a specific reason. The two men in question, are brothers: Toby Howard (Chris Pine) and his recently released from prison, older brother Tanner. During the getaway, after one of the old packing cowboy bank patrons tries to fill them up with holes,(a running joke in this film is that just about everybody is carrying firearms and ready for some swift justice) we learn why these two men are doing what they're doing. Toby, who is divorced, has a couple of sons he never gets to see and had been caring for his and Tanner's very sick mom on the family ranch, has learned that there is oil on the property that no one knows about. Unfortunately, they are going to foreclose on them, thus losing the wealth of the land, unless they come up with what they owe the bank. Problem is, Toby doesn't have the funds, as caring for their mom who died has left them strapped, and Tanner was no help being in prison for the last ten or so years. So what's a cowboy down on his luck supposed to do? Rob from the banks who have been screwing them all these years.So that's the plan: keep a low profile, robbing small banks as they make their way to Oklahoma where they launder their money in a Casino.

Problem is, a wise old, almost retired Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges, who is solid as an oak in this role) and his patient partner Alberto (Gil Birmingham) have been assigned to this case of random small bank jobs where the robbers are only taking the loose cash. Marcus sees a pattern and is more than happy to take his partner on a road trip, tracking these thieves, as he staves off retirement. The rapport between these two is fantastic, as Marcus tortures his half Indian, half Mexican partner with racially inappropriate jokes.(Bridges) the character could be the more vocal, boisterous brother of (Tommy Lee Jone's Sheriff) in the (Coen Brother's masterpiece: No Country for Old Men).They are wonderful.

(Pine) and (Foster) are also fantastic in the two lead roles, playing brothers who love each other deeply, even though they are very different.( Pine) as the brooding Toby, who didn't amount to much but has a good heart, does a great job of conveying a man who is resigned to his fate, but will do the right thing for his kids. (Foster) is a hoot, mixing some truly funny deliveries with a hint of menace. He too knows where he is going. These actors dig into the roles. The script by actor/writer (Taylor Sheridan) who also wrote the excellent (Sicario) is spot on in its beat between characters. The cinematography, direction, and music is also a huge plus, adding to the pitch perfect tone this film creates. This film was nominated for best picture of 2016 and it deserved it. Hell or High Water is fabulous.

You should see this movie.

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