Chris Pine and Ben Foster play brothers chased by old stalwart Texas ranger Jeff Bridges as they keeping pushing their luck robbing one bank after another to buy back the family home. The real bad guys here however, in this hot and dusty Texan outback, is the bank – a symbol of our times perhaps and a well deserved foe.
Pine is the quieter of the pair. Brooding and thinking his next move, one step at a time. Foster is the hollering, garrulous one. The bolder of the two. They make a fine pairing; Pine stepping away from the shadow of Star Trek with ease looking every bit the desperate sweaty bandit and Foster doing that edgy unpredictable routine he has down pat. Both are exemplary here. Bridges is the perfect foil; overweight, his head in his chest falling deeper down into his own voice it would seem. He phones the role in well, but it’s nothing too challenging.
The script by Sicario writer Taylor Sheridan has enough bite and emotion in its engine to propel the characters and win us over and it ties in superbly with David Mackenzie’s meticulous direction.
Hell or High Water is an extremely assured crime drama, a throwback to those American muscle movies of the 70’s; the Lumets, the Yates and Peckinpahs of the world, all ending with Crimino’s Heaven’s Gate. The kind of film I wish there were ten of every year but alas, this genre doesn’t seem to fit in with the current superhero/remake/reboot trends and one can’t expect the Coens/Villeneuve/Hillcoat/Dominik and now Mackenzie to do all the hard work year after year. Hell or High Water is a very masculine drama underpinned with universal themes of filial loyalty and brotherhood that could appeal to anyone. It’s a huge jump from 2013’s Starred Up but Mackenzie’s easily managed it and what comes next is anyone’s guess.
Hell of High Water is on general release now