Review: Hell or High Water (2016)


Hell or High Water is easily one of the best movies of the year. Set in Texas, this suspenseful crime thriller reminded me of older classics where the bad guys suddenly become your heroes. It was one of the most pleasant surprises back in the summer of 2016 which was mostly filled with flop blockbusters. Somehow, I only got to see it in January.

The film was directed by David MacKenzie and follows the story of two brothers that try to raise money to save their deep in debt family ranch. Toby, the younger brother (Chris Pine), realizes that he has no other option than to steal money and chooses a local bank as his target. Tanner (Ben Foster), his unpredictable and dangerous ex-con older brother agrees to help him. They follow a methodical plan targeting small branches of Texas Midlands, the bank that is about to foreclose their ranch. Naturally, they get the attention of the police and the soon-to-be retired ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges). Hell or high water eventually does come as the plot reaches its climax leaving the viewer with a bittersweet feeling.

The impressive thing about this film is the way it makes you feel about its characters. You see a homicidal Ben Foster saying “I love you little brother” and hope that he gets away with the money. The next moment you see Jeff Bridges crying over his dead partner and wish he gets Ben Foster in the head. By the time the ending credits roll, you can’t tell for certain what is wrong or right, good or evil.

The acting is solid throughout the movie. Jeff Bridges, one of my favourite actors, deservedly got a golden globe nomination. Ben Foster was awesome too and he should get more attention after this. The other very strong aspect of the film was the soundtracks. A mix of country, blues and classic rock, the songs seem to be the perfect choice for each scene. Gillian Welch’s I’m not afraid to die playing as the brothers share their nostalgic moments during what might be their last day in the ranch where they grew up, is one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve seen in a while. After three Golden Globe nominations (with no wins unfortunately), I really hope it gets rewarded in next month’s Academy Awards.



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