Solid western noir. There's an admirable fluidity to the action sequences, and the ending is graceful even if it's exactly what you'd expect. But the highly telegraphed messages of crime, punishment, and inequality in Recession Era America can't quite sustain the illusion—that is, all of the above feel like movie play-acting. But if you're going to play-act, you can't do much better than Jeff Bridges.
Brings to mind Andrew Dominik's "Killing Them Softly," another subtle-as-a-jackhammer film that wore its politics on its sleeve. But unlike that 2012 effort, "Hell or High Water" is exceptionally well-written and executed. It's on the shortlist of movies that serve as some kind of signpost as to why millions of Americans decided to walk into a voting booth and flip a roulette wheel by voting for Trump last November.
A high two, mostly because I'm tired of threes. The vastly, vividly empty landscapes, shot with loving longing unless I put those there myself, are what impressed me most about this film, which otherwise grates a bit in its eagerness to please everyone but its banker bogeymen, in opposition to whom it imagines a romantic alliance of all non-moneylending races that's cool with a little well-meant white condescension.
Hell or High Wate is a low-concept, straight-to-the-point, quietly explosive Texan extravaganza. Mackenzie grounds viewers in a lawless world, one plagued by poverty, debt and the imminence of death, and rewards them with rich character drama and excellent performances.
A satisfying genre film that attempts to be something more before becoming awash in cliché and character tropes. Another failed American dream story that points the finger at the black hats of the banking system may be satisfying for the audience but the undertone of the human cost sours it. Chris Pine surprises here but the film belongs to Ben Foster and Gil Birmingham who make up for Jeff Bridges' sleepwalk.
A modernized Wild West complete with desperate anti-heroes, bank-robbing, Texas Rangers, and old-fashioned showdowns. Though the real strength of this film is its ability to be subtle, hinting at the story rather than blurting it out. It's taut, with an atmosphere so heavy and dry you can almost feel the dusty breeze on your skin. Impressive - but not as gripping as Mackenzie's previous film, Starred Up.
Some truly marvelous stuff here, hampered by tone of self-seriousness, high-minded Greek tragedy overtones, and a score I truly dislike by two guys I truly love. And I want a bank robber movie set in West Texas that begins w/ a Townes Van Zandt song! I saw this movie wearing cowboy boots and countercultural hairdo, for Christ's sake. And I want more of Ben Foster. All the time. Dripping serious method, that one.
What do you get when you throw in together an "I did it for my kids" bank robber, his dickhead black sheep of a brother, an old "isn't my racism cute and funny" veteran cop on the verge of retirement, and his trusted ethnic sidekick/partner? An incredibly banal movie, lacking in both tension and subtlety,un-remarkably directed, poorly paced and blandly acted.