22 June 2024

DVD Review – Hell Or High Water (2016)

Complex, harsh, contemporary western packs a punch, a brilliantly intense look at brotherhood and what lengths someone would go to for family.

Tanner (Ben Foster) and Toby (Chris Pine) siblings with underlying motivations to pull off a series heists across multiple banks in the Texas midland taking less than one thousand dollars per hit in an attempt to keep their actions a low priority with authorities.

Tracking the robberies is Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) the grizzled Texas Ranger who has seen everything making it his mission to catch up with the wild boys on the run. Oscar winner Bridges is one of the few true Hollywood modern screen legends, however, let’s not talk about Seventh Son (2014) and lean more towards excellent recent turns in True Grit (2010) and Crazy Heart (2009) he is made for this role in the ten gallon hat.

World weary Ranger Hamilton is funny, tender then suddenly obnoxious, says what he thinks but judges fairness due to a layer of grief which he holds on to.

Determined to lay down the law his pursuit of criminals changes with the profiles and early on he has a feeling these brothers may be relatively harmless, just in need of survival cash.

Not your average western, be prepared its slow burning, written by Taylor Sheridan (Sicario) he certainly knows how to wind-up a plot to challenge conventional storytelling.

Cinematography tonally shows landscapes of Texas in sharp focus although most of it is anything but pretty in favour of beaten up caravans, oil wells and pastures of dead grass.

Complimenting the outstanding film is a soundtrack featuring a bunch of moody, scene appropriate music from Nick Cave.

Foster and Pine have their chemistry perfected as total opposites but solid brothers in arms while moving on from promising child star in one of my favourite black comedies Sunshine Cleaning (2008) all grown up Amber Midthunder is superior in limited screen time.

Charismatic Bridges is the backbone of the heavy themes grappled with, while a few twists to the tale just when you think everything is sorted only extends the suspense.

Shane A.Bassett | Movie Analyst

Western, Drama, Crime | UK, 2016 | 15 | 9th January 2017 (UK) | Studiocanal | Dir.David MacKenzie | Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges, Dale Dickey, Gil Birmingham | Buy:[DVD]

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