Director: David Mackenzie
Starring: Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges, Gil Birmingham
Running Time: 102 mins
Release Date: 9 September, 2016
HELL OR HIGH WATER follows two brothers as they drive through Texas on a bank robbing spree. The pair rob several banks in one day to cover their outstanding debts and pay off their late mother’s ranch.
This is one of those films that sneaks under the radar and hardly anyone notices it. This is unfortunate because Hell or High Water is a solid film with great performances and a simplistic yet compelling plot. Tanner and Toby Howard (Ben Foster and Chris Pine) decide to rob banks to pay off their family debts and make sure Toby’s children have a stable future. They hold bank tellers at gunpoint early in the morning just as the banks are opening to avoid customers.
Hell or High Water is not the sort of film typically out at this time of year, but after months of superhero films, dumb action, and some baffling, stupid, and terrible films, this is quite refreshing and provides an easy transition into the awards season. The performances are by far the strongest aspect of this; Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham’s onscreen friendship is excellent and you develop a genuine level of affection for them. Ben Foster is great as the amoral and wide-eyed Tanner, who stumbles around drinking beer and maniacally laughing as he drives around from bank to bank. Chris Pine’s character is the brains of the duo and his performance is more subtle, but still effective.
The plot moves at a steady pace and is pretty straightforward; two men are robbing banks and two police officers are chasing after them. The severity of the situation is never blown out of proportion, which is something that is very common in a lot of crime dramas. It works as a stand alone story about a common crime. The film sometimes feels like No Country for Old Men with its realistic tone paired with a very sparse music score. There is actually a somewhat lighthearted feel to Hell or High Water until the final act, which has a greater impact as a result.
Overall, Hell or High Water is an excellent film with a very strong cast. So far it seems to be a film not many people are going to see, but it is very enjoyable and should not be overlooked.