• ehost726 July 2016
    Gritty and Engaging - Great Addition to the Crime Drama Genre!
    With Taylor Sheridan as the writer and David MacKenzie at the helm, I had high hopes for this movie. Both of their last respective projects (Sheridan - Sicario, MacKenzie - Starred Up) were gritty, violent, and engaging. All of those hold true for Hell or High Water.

    The main characters, Chris Pine and Ben Foster turn in great performances. Ben Foster plays the ex-con brother. And as usual, he turns in what I think was the best performance of the movie. He has a knack for playing a top notch supporting role, and often times gets overlooked. Chris Pine also nails it as the more straight laced brother. For a pretty boy of Hollywood, his portrayal is authentic. Jeff Bridges also compliments these two well as the older, sort of jaded officer. Both him and Foster even provide a good amount of laughs, but neither overdo it.

    The setting of the movie really sets it above others in the genre. I would say this movie is more crime/drama or heist film than Western, but it definitely has a Western vibe due to its northwest Texas setting. The area has been hit hard by the recession, a failing farm industry, and big oil. It all makes the recklessness and danger Foster and Pine engage in that much more enjoyable, and even sort of relatable. The audience can at least sympathize with them as they do what they think is right.

    Overall, this film is well worth a watch. It can be put in a league with more recent films like The Town, Drive, and The Place Beyond the Pines.
  • rick-j-walsh13 August 2016
    Refreshingly original, brilliantly acted, thoughtful western/crime film
    In a summer (or should that be year or decade) of vapid sequels, remakes, and overblown superhero catastrophes, who would have expected an entertaining, intelligent, well-crafted, suspenseful, character- driven, modern-day western with a brain. Riding on Taylor Sheridan's razor-sharp script and David Mackenzie's nuanced direction, Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, and (especially) Ben Foster (along with everyone else who appears on the screen) inhabit this film as wryly humorous, heartfelt, vicious, painfully tragic, and realistic members of a society reaping the fruits it has tragically sown. Best film so far this year.
  • bob-the-movie-man18 March 2017
    "Sometimes a blind pig finds a truffle"
    Bank robberies have been featured in many hundreds of films since the early days of cinema: The Great Train Robbery for example dates back to 1903! More recent heist classics such as "Oceans 11", "Die Hard", "Run Lola Run" and "The Dark Knight Rises" tend towards the stylised end of the act. Where this film delivers interest is in aligning the protagonists' drivers with the banking and mortgage 'crimes' featured in last year's "The Big Short". Add in to the movie Nutribullet a soupçon of the West Texan setting from Arthur Penn's 1967 "Bonnie and Clyde", turn it on and you have "Hell or High Water".

    Chris Pine ("Star Trek") and Ben Foster ("Inferno", "The Program") play brothers Toby and Tanner Howard trying to rescue their deceased mother's ranch from being foreclosed on by Texas Midlands bank. Rather than taking one of the "get out of debt" offers advertised on billboards – cleverly and insistently introduced in long panning highway shots – the brothers have their own financial plan: a scheme that involves early morning raids of the cash drawers of small-town Texas Midlands branches. But the meticulous planning of Toby, as the calm and intelligent one, are constantly at risk of upset by the unpredictable and violent actions of the loose-cannon Tanner.

    Since the amounts of cash stolen are in the thousands rather than the millions, the FBI aren't interested and the case is handed instead by aged and grumpy Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges, "True Grit") and his partner Alberto (Gil Birmingham). The pair have a respectful relationship but one built around racial banter, with Hamilton constantly referring to Alberto's Mexican/Comanche heritage. A cat and mouse game ensues with the lawmen staking out the most likely next hits. The sonorous cello strings of the soundtrack portend a dramatic finale, and we as viewers are not disappointed.

    The performances of the main leads are all excellent, with Chris Pine given the chance to show more acting chops than he has had chance to with his previous Kirk/Jack Ryan characters. His chemistry with Ben Foster is just sublime. Similarly, Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham make for a formidable double act. It is Jeff Bridges though who has the standout performance and one that is Oscar nominated for Best Supporting Actor. (In fact with Michael Shannon also getting nominated in the same category for "Nocturnal Animals", we can add 'West Texan lawman' to 'Holocaust movies' (a Winslet "Extras" reference there!) as the prime bait for Oscar nomination glory!)

    The real winner here though is the whip-smart screenplay by Taylor Sheridan ("Sicario") which sizzles with great lines: lines that make you grin inanely at the screen regularly through the running time."In your last days in the nursing home, you'll think of me and giggle" schmoozes Tanner to the pretty hotel check-in girl: a come-on clearly worth remembering as it delivers the goods, as it were.

    The trick here is in building up a degree of empathy and sympathy for the characters on both sides. The 'bad guys' here are successfully portrayed as the banks. Before the 2017 awards, you could get 25/1 odds on this winning the Best Original Screenplay Oscar – but I would personally rate it right up there with "Manchester by the Sea".

    Deftly directed by Scot David Mackenzie ("Starred Up") this is a film (the first of two!) that might well have elbowed it's way into my Top 10 of 2016 if I'd seen it during its cinema release. Well worth catching on the small screen.

    (For the graphical version of this review, please visit bob-the- movie-man.com).
  • wcoleparks21 June 2016
    So entertaining!
    The American western seems to be slowly making a comeback in recent years. With films such as The Rover, Slow West and True Grit there have been some interesting and unique approaches to this old genre. Hell or High Water fits right in with these mentioned films by containing a lot of comedy, engaging characters, and no holds barred violence.

    Chris Pine and Ben Foster as the bank-robbing brothers share great chemistry and draw sympathy from the audience with compelling performances. Jeff Bridges stands out however as the hardened cop tasked to track down the brothers. His racist slurs and aggravated man persona works perfectly with his gravely, yet genuine voice and he finds perfect timing in his comedic delivery.

    The music, done by Nick Cave is also perfect. After crafting one of the greatest scores with Assassination of Jesse James, he gets pretty close to that here with very foreboding and meditative music. Especially right before the big showdown.

    And when it all goes down, the film will have you on the edge of your seat. It doesn't hold anything back and people die out of nowhere. It's very realistic and is worth the tension filed build up.

    Hell or High Water is a surprisingly great American western.

    Hell or High Water (2016) Directed by: David Mackenzie Screenplay by: Taylor Sheridan Starring: Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster Run Time: 1 hour 42 minutes
  • A_Different_Drummer10 November 2016
    An Acting Clinic ... and a Great Film
    Jeff Bridges and Chris Pine put on an acting clinic.

    Bridges at 66 has enough swagger, 'tude and testosterone to be an action figure.

    Pine, always reliable as a A-lister, takes his craft to a whole new level. He is as far from Captain Kirk as the earth is from the moon. Superb work. And unforgettable.

    The script is to die for. Intelligent to a degree that makes you wonder aloud how the constant stream of B and C movies out of Hollywood ever get funded. Solid from the first line of dialog to the last.

    West Texas is the unbilled co-star. You feel like you are there.

    One of the best releases of the year.
  • namashi_116 August 2016
    A Terrific Movie!
    David Mackenzie's 'Hell or High Water' is A Terrific Movie, that turns out to be an unexpected delight of the Summer. With underwhelming superhero movies or reboots doing the rounds, this Heist/Crime Motion-Picture offers a Solid Story, that is Sharply Written, Expertly Directed & Very Strongly Acted.

    'Hell or High Water' Synopsis: A divorced dad and his ex-con brother resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family's farm in West Texas.

    'Hell or High Water' is a story of family & crime. You watch the 2 brothers rob banks, as they are tired of being poor & they indulge in aggression. And then you have Two Texas Rangers, after them, because they're wearing a uniform & they serve for the protection of the people. Its the difference of dynamics between its characters that make 'Hell or High Water' a solid watch. I wan engrossed by the camaraderie of the 4 characters, they are interesting to watch & hear.

    'Hell or High Water' is perfectly paced, as the narrative hits the nail & culminates in a crisp 101-minutes. The film begins with a punch & ends on the very same note. I was thoroughly engrossed by the story & how well it progressed. Taylor Sheridan's Screenplay is Sharp. His Writing is tops, allowing us to get into the story & have an interesting experience. David Mackenzie's Direction is expertly done. He's handled the film, with command. Giles Nuttgens' Cinematography is fantastic. West Texas has been captured beautifully. Jake Roberts' Editing is crisp. Art & Costume Design are perfect. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis's Score is good. Action-Sequences are well-done, as well.

    Performance-Wise: 'Hell or High Water' is filled with superior performances. Jeff Bridges steals the show as the senior Texas ranger, who's sly sense of humor with his Indian partner (a fabulous Gil Birmingham) & skill to put things together & get to the criminals, is delightful. Bridges gets his character spot-on & proves once again, that he's among the Greatest we've ever had. As the 2-brothers who go on bank-robbing spree, Chris Pine & Ben Foster are in top-form. Pine is a revelation, delivering a mature, restrained performance, while Foster, an actor who's potential isn't new to know, continues to astonish, with his enviable talent for playing unpredictable, unlikable characters. Also, the on-screen chemistry between Pine & Foster, appears real & affecting.

    On the whole, 'Hell or High Water' is a Winner! Don't Miss It!
  • gg0480421 August 2016
    Best Film This Year
    You need to see this movie. That could be this entire review, but I think I should describe how amazing this film is. Unlike most summer movies, the writing is fantastic, keeping me and the rest of the people watching with me attached to the movie and its characters even when they are just talking in a diner or something. Also unlike most other summer movies, the movie does not attempt to create artificial tension in the form of fast cuts or stupid action scenes, it creates tension in the form of dialogue and sometimes in the form of brilliantly filmed action. It should be noted that the cinematography in this film is truly amazing. The cinematography captures the desolateness and sadness of the area of West Texas that the movie is set in. There are also many wide shots, which looked like they were filmed with drones which also added to the beauty of the filming. The music also adds to the western feel of this movie. The writing of this film is where it really shines. The writing is captivating and it is so natural, for the area. The banter between both pairs of characters (the brothers and the rangers) is very entertaining in that you can almost feel their relationship and the history of it. Also, I have to say, the writing for the side characters, who are only in the film for their respective scenes is even better. This is the first time I have ever cared about some random waitress who is only in the film for 90 seconds because their writing is masterful. Also, the acting is definitely some of the best I have seen, Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges both really shine in the film because of their stunning acting. The acting helps in that when Chris Pine and Ben Foster are mid- heist you can really feel the stress when they get into situations that one or both of them are not comfortable with. In closing, this film has amazing writing, cinematography, acting, pacing, everything. This film is just beautiful and you really need to see it, like yesterday, it is easily the best film this year and a major contender for Best Picture, Best Director, etc.
  • Rendanlovell21 August 2016
    A film worth seeking out.
    'Hell or High Water' is a bit of an odd duck. Mainly because it got a wide release. This is the only great film that has released in 2016 that got a wide release. I mean, there are only four or five films that I thought have been really great and all of them have either got basically no theater release or a limited viewing. I truly hope that this spurs more films like it though. More well crafted movies that actually have characters you can get invested in. There have been so many films this year that have completely failed due to poor character writing. Now, this film isn't perfect. So lets just get the negatives out of the way before we get into what makes this great.

    There aren't many problems here. The only big issue for me lies in the films story. It's really not that good. Once you step back to examine it, it's actually pretty by the numbers. If you've seen any heist movie ever than you probably know where this film is going. It follows a very standard formula that rarely deviates from it's by the numbers approach.

    But it wasn't until I took a step back that I noticed it. That's due to how well executed it is. It's one of those films that's so finely crafted that you don't really notice it's issues. That's what I loved about the film. It has such great characters that the familiar beats it hits actually feel genuine. Because you get to know these people and you feel like their choices matter to what's happening on screen.

    Which came as a breath of fresh air in a time when films have become so predictable and convenient. Our three main characters are played by Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, and Ben Foster. Who were all at their very best for this movie. Foster was the weakest of all but when acting across from Bridges, is hard to really stand out. Yet, that is exactly what Chris Pine does. I have never seen him give this kind of performance.

    I'm glad to see him taking on nuanced roles that legitimately show his range. It felt almost like his performance in 'Z for Zachariah' but he's far more compelling to watch here. Which really adds to his character. He is the one that you have to feel for most. And his sad yet determined personality really pushed you through the film.

    On the other end, Ben fosters character introduced the most conflict to the film. To avoid spoilers, I won't go into his character much but the film respected him enough to not make him the bad guy. It's so easy to make a character like that the films bad guy but he never becomes that person. It respects its characters enough to make them humans with problems instead of saying this guys the bad one and this guy is the good one.

    And it's all shot and directed with the utter most care and effort. With nearly every shot you can feel the attention to detail and the work put into making this the way it is. It may not be Alejandro Inarritu levels of ingenuity but I loved seeing effort being put into making the film. It's very rare to see great directing and inventive cinematography in wide release films like this.

    'Hell or High Water' is rare breed. It's a great film that got a wide release. There is a lot of love and care put into this and it shows. It's well shot, directed nicely, has a solid score, is brilliantly acted, and offers excellent characters. This is definitely worth going out and seeing. That being said, It falls just short of being amazing. The story is pretty by the numbers and it's ending doesn't really seem to know what it wants to do. However, it remains a great film and is definitely worth supporting in theaters.
  • subxerogravity15 August 2016
    Nothing like a real great modern day western movie!
    Look at Chris Pine trying to prove he's not just a pretty face doing these small films that show his range, and show how he can do accents, but seriously, Pine was totally in his element here.

    Jeff bridges gave a great performance that matches his cowboy ethics in True Grit, playing a very old school Texas Ranger hunting down Pine and Ben Foster who play brothers robbing banks. A little in the Archie Bunker Territory when dealing with his Mexican, Native American partner, but all the way likable.

    Ben Foster was fantastic as well,as the bad apple big brother looking for redemption. Very dynamic acting, by all three main actors.

    The music really adds to the cool western feel, putting me in the cowboy mode. I thought it was interesting that they had one scene in the movie in which real life cowboys herding cattle appear, in a movie about the movie style cowboys, and it's some real cowboy stuff going on here.

    It's very macho without turning off the indi crowd that would love this film. There's a scene in the movie when Jeff Daniels Character confronts one of the bank robbers and it was like Eastwood and Wayne back in the day, man. It just wraps up the whole vibe of the movie in one swoop. I feel like it's the type of movie everyone in Texas should love.

    And it's very Texas (or rather what I expect from Texas): every dinner only sells streak, It's hard to be a armed bank robber because at least two people in the bank carry a gun. The film does use Texas as a perfect pocket for all American life with the bank robbers having a bigger agenda to save the land they own and secure a future for their family, screwing over the bank that's screwing them.

    It has the same appeal of the Timber when it comes to today's Westerns, but it's setting in contemporary times but with that old fashion tone gives it an edge.

  • Red_Identity20 August 2016
    Excellently-written and acted
    This is definitely the type of simple film that many might dismiss when first hearing about it or seeing the promotional footage of it. What's really surprising about it is the amount of emotional and dramatic weight that it carries. It's not primarily interested in gun fights or car chases. Instead, it's interested in exploring the dynamics of race and culture, and in depicting everyone as flawed individuals who you still feel empathy for. It gives you a portrayal of what poverty and the economy can do, even when never attempting to justify the horrible behavior on display or trying to make excuses for its characters. It's filled with wonderful, thoughtful dialogue while also playing out like a realistic morality tale. The three leads are also fantastic, especially Ben Foster, who deserves to get more roles as the talented character-actor he is. This is highly recommended.
  • eagandersongil28 February 2017
    A modern western
    A modern western of quality, when I say modern, I mean it's a Western thing that happens in 20I6, yes, that's possible and "At any cost" is proof of that, a film with a smell and flavor of the western, with action , Duels, weapons, hats and Texas, but also with feeling. The film tells the story of Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster), two bandits who make assaults on bank boxes and their executioners, the film works on this quest for cat and mouse of the two nuclei . The film tries to pass a moral about not being villains or good guys, in the western, these concepts does not exist, there is only who draws the gun first, the film is great at doing this, even if it happens in the current times, we also have brushstrokes about seeing all Points of view and a criticism of the abandonment of the cities of the interior that are still sunk in the economic crisis of 2008. The photography is great, full of aerial plans, with a palette of colors that pulls red, the climate is hot, photography Is urban and at the same time gives a complete sense of solitude, with a spectacular soundtrack, full of country, you want to pack and move to Texas, the track gives the tone of the movie several times, can even play once or Another at wrong times, but it is always a treat anyway. Chris Pine does a good performance, nothing special, he fulfills his role, Ben Foster is well out of tune, his performance is bad and it is not the movie, the gold here is Jeff Bridges, who Acts more physically with his face, full of postures, while sitting, walking, looking, he is a legitimate cowboy, does not deserve the Oscar, but deserved the indication. And a compliment to David Mackenzie who knows how to record moving scenes like no one else. Finally "At any cost" is a good movie, for the lovers of the western has a much more special taste.
  • Movie_Muse_Reviews13 December 2016
    A morally complex "cops-and-robbers" film
    In a year when the quality of life in middle America small towns has come back into focus, "Hell or High Water" feels like an important film, perhaps more important than it might have been had it been released prior to 2016. But it's not just timeliness that makes this a good movie. There are strong performances and strong writing Taylor Sheridan, someone we should definitely be paying more attention.

    The "Sicario" writer returns with another tale set near the U.S.-Mexico border, this one following two poor West Texas brothers, Tanner and Toby Howard, one an ex-con (Ben Foster) and the other a divorced father of two (Chris Pine), who start robbing banks for petty cash. Their objective is to make enough money to pay off the bank before it forecloses on their recently deceased mother's ranch, which she willed to her grandsons. The property also happens to be sitting on enough oil to guarantee the boys' future.

    With the stolen amounts too small to warrant attention from the FBI, a nearly retired Texas Ranger named Marcus (Jeff Bridges) and his partner, Alberto (Gil Birmingham), are assigned to track down the robbers and the cat-and-mouse game begins.

    The characters could be distilled to two outlaw anti-heroes and the ranger on their tail who is about to hang it all up, but Sheridan's script evolves beyond the archetypes and into complicated, ugly territory, which is exactly where he took 2015's "Sicario." Whereas most cops-and-robbers stories have clear good guys and bad guys, this one doesn't.

    Foster's Tanner is the wild one who can take things too far and lacks a moral compass, but he's fiercely loyal and devoted to his brother. Pine's Toby seems good through and through, but he has a violent streak and their whole illegal scheme is his idea. Even Bridges' smart, shiny-badged old ranger has a slightly bigoted attitude that often expresses itself to his half-Mexican, half-Native American partner.

    All this "gray" makes watching how "Hell or High Water" plays out all the more interesting. We find ourselves rooting for the brothers' success only to have Sheridan execute some jarring turns in the story. Suddenly the stakes get higher and more real, and director David Mackenzie wisely keeps his hands off it all, which actually adds to the shock factor. We never feel comfortable with the violence in the film because it never feels stylish and never becomes commonplace, and that makes the violence that does happen more effective.

    There's also a social commentary at play beneath the main thrust of the narrative, which is what really makes Sheridan's work stand out. Race crops up at various points, sometimes subtly and other times less so. At one point, Tanner has a confrontation with a Comanche man at a casino that seems to digress from the story a bit, but it serves the purpose of highlighting differences and animosity between people, and the pervasive "otherness" that causes so many rifts in our society.

    That's where the timely factor comes in. It's not just about how these brothers represent the millions of Americans whose small town way of life is going extinct and creating such desperation, it's about how we go after what we want at the expense of other people, and treat others like the enemy. These fears, these attitudes and this desperation is cancerous and, sadly, cyclical.

    That's more than you'd expect from a movie about bank robbers, to be sure.

    ~Steven C

    Thanks for reading! Read more at Movie Muse Reviews
  • Paul Allaer19 August 2016
    Flawless bank robbers vs Texas Rangers action-drama and characters study
    "Hell or High Water" (2016 release; 105 min.) brings the story of two brothers, Toby and Tanner. As the movie opens, we see them rob two Texas Midlands Bank branches in rapid succession. It's only later that we learn why. After the second heist, the Texas Rangers are informed, and Marcus, who is going to retire in three weeks, wants to do one final case before going off into the sunset. At this point, we are 10 min. into the movie, but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

    Couple of comments: this is the latest movie from Scottish director David Mackenzie, and here he brings to the big screen the outstanding script by former actor Taylor Sheridan, who blew us away last year with "Sicario", my No.1 movie of the year in 2015. Here the story focuses on the two brothers, one a divorced dad and the other just released after a 7 year prison stint. The brothers are played by Chris Pine (MILES away from the recent Star Trek Beyond) and Ben Foster. But the best performance comes from Jeff Bridges as good ol' Marcus, always short on breath and "sitting on the porch, practicing my future", when his partner asks him why he is sitting outside his hotel room. Bridges has gotten many acclaims over his career, and I don't know that this one tops them all, but it sure comes close. Add in the beautiful landscape of the southwest (New Mexico standing in for Western Texas), plus a gorgeous soundtrack fro Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, and it all comes together like a perfect cocktail. I'm trying to think of any flaws in this movie, but I can't think of any, hence my rating of 5 stars (which I rarely give).

    The movie opened this weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati, and I couldn't wait to see it. The Friday early evening screening where I saw this at was attended nicely, and I bet you with outstanding word-of-mouth a guarantee, this movie will gain strength at the box office in the weeks to come. Pretty sure this will pick up a lot of attention come the awards season at the end of the year. "Hell or High Water" is HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
  • Asif Khan (asifahsankhan)26 February 2017
    It's One Hell of a Movie!
    If you're going to make a movie based in West Texas about the destruction of the agrarian economy and the way the banks rape the poor and why so much of the American heartland has turned into a ghost town husk of what it once was, what better way to embellish the moments than to include the songs of artists like Ray Wylie Hubbard, Scott H. Biram, Colter Wall, and Chris Stapleton in it. These are the men who've witnessed the destruction first hand and sing about it regularly.

    Hell or High Water, written by Taylor Sheridan, directed by David Mackenzie, and starring Jeff Bridges, Ben Foster, and Chris Pine, is a Neo-Western story about two brothers that go on a bank robbing spree to help keep the family farm in the family. Soundtrack and score writers Nick Cave and Warren Ellis also included classic country cuts from Waylon Jennings and Townes Van Zandt in the film, answering the question for many traditional/independent country fans what it would feel like to witness a modern-day big budget movie with all of your favourite artists comprising the soundtrack. The answer is it's pretty damn cool.

    But Hell or High Water is much more than just a vehicle for good music. David Mackenzie has taken his little film with a cool soundtrack and made it one of the most critically-acclaimed flicks of the season, shining a greater spotlight on the artists and songs that are deftly interwoven with the story, and in moments with haunting and auspicious timing. Independent music artists know that awards aren't everything, but if Hell or High Water wins big at the Oscars, it will be no small bragging rights for the musicians involved.

    The film moves a little bit slow at the beginning, struggling to create the adrenaline rush you would anticipate from scenes of bank robberies and high-speed getaways. It takes a while for the viewer to find a personal connection with the main characters, and despite the true-to-life and naturally-poetic setting of West Texas, we've seen this many times before, and recently. The story of the retiring (or recently retired) lawman, in this case Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton played by Jeff Bridges, is a trope of many of these movies. Take Tommy Lee Jones in No Country For Old Men for example.

    When the intricacy of the plot of the two brothers played by Chris Pine and Ben Foster begins to be revealed, and the relationship between them is given time to meld, this is when the movie begins to take hold, especially when their plan begins to race to a conclusion, and risks unravelling. This isn't your traditional Oscar- contending film in the sense that it isn't primarily intellectual or artistic in scope. These elements are certainly paid great deference, but this is a film of action, plot twists, and characters.

    Where Hell of High Water does play to the Hollywood mindset is how it re-imagines the whole Robin Hood story in a fresh and relevant light, despite the age and grit that encompass the story in its West Texas setting. This film could have been set in 1980 from how so many of the buildings, places, and people haven't changed. But the story is very 2017 in how legacy farms and ranches throughout the United States— and the family ties that have made them the harbour of memories for generations—are being threatened like never before by a modern-day banking system that does not account for how estate taxes and corporate farming do a disservice to the interests of independent land owners.

    As Hell or High Water works towards its conclusion, the lines between good and bad get blurred, and the moments and characters hold much more weight. Though the film feels like an outsider for Best Picture, and one you probably watch once and greatly enjoy but don't feel the need to revisit, it does sell you on the idea it should be in contention for the best in a given year.

    Often it is mourned that music awards shows are not more like the Oscars, where truly the best films and the best performances are and is rewarded as opposed to a simple acknowledgement of commercial success. Yet as we've seen in recent years—including an Oscar for Ryan Bingham in 2010—the film industry can be a lucrative outlet for the artists that should receive accolades, but are often overlooked. Hell or High Water not only accomplishes this, it's one hell of a movie to get taken lightly. Let alone getting overlooked!
  • tomsview23 February 2017
    The power of two
    "Hell or High Water" may have revitalised the Western genre, but it also revitalised the buddy movie. The bond between the two sets of men, one each on either side of the law, drives the movie.

    There is a touch of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" about Toby and Tanner Howard (Chris Pine and Ben Foster). Being brothers meant there was already a close bond, but they are also friends and hang out together. However they have a dangerous edge and rob branches of the bank that is about to foreclose on their family ranch.

    The two lawmen who come after them, Texas Rangers Marcus Hamilton and Alberto Parker (Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham), are buddies too; two aging Rangers with Marcus about to retire. Despite plenty of bantering insults, you know these guys are tight. Their banter reveals insights into their characters.

    The film has a feel. As much as it is modern twist on the Western, the way the brothers hit the banks and then hit the back roads is reminiscent of the depression era bank robbers: Dillinger, Bonny and Clyde, Baby Face Nelson - with a touch of "High Sierra" thrown in.

    Jeff Bridges steals the show. He is fascinating to watch in interviews with Chris Pine and Ben Foster. He's a good listener and doesn't talk over people, he's a laid back guy; the role of the laconic, but determined Marcus Hamilton was made for him.

    The team of two that sticks by each other to the end is a powerful combination, and two is the magic number; just like marriage. The best cop shows in movies or on TV feature partners who have each other's backs.

    Newman and Redford set the gold standard for buddies as Butch and Sundance, Connery and Caine polished it in "The Man Who Would be King", and it worked beautifully for Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in "Lethal Weapon". There is something reassuring to an audience when mates face the odds together. It's surprising that filmmakers don't go there more often - it's more effective than the lone wolf hero - and there are more opportunities for great one-liners.

    Script, direction, photography, score and performance all came together on "Hell or High Water" - it's just about the perfect creative storm.
  • rmvisitor21 August 2016
    Ridiculous plot
    Warning: Spoilers
    The film was exciting and even adrenaline rushing at some points, but it does not take an asset manager, banker, or anyone else working in the financial world to know that as soon as oil was discovered on that land the oil companies would have paid very well in order to buy the land, or perhaps even just lease it in order to siphon the oil. Hell, even a small time investor would have sunk the 40k into paying off the back taxes so long as you tripled his return (which could have been done in less than 3 months considering that the movie states that they're making 50k a month off of the oil) In the end, the plot of this film is just a very cheap excuse to promote very real and very serious issues that many people are facing in this country. I just wish they had been as hell bent on making the plot as believable as they were in trying to get their political points across.
  • vespatian756 December 2016
    An insightful look at West Texas.
    Wonderful film. The locale and time frame of this modern crime film/western is similar to "No Country for Old Men", but, despite the fact that I admire the work of the Coen Brothers and Cormac McCarthy, I think it is a much better movie. It is less contrived and Jeff Bridges is allowed to remain true to his character. Although actually filmed in nearby Eastern New Mexico it presents a moving portrait of the realities of West Texas. The poor white working class, which never heard of "white privilege", the predatory lending practices of local banks, the resentment of the descendants of the Comanches "lords of the plains",and the ethos of the Texas Rangers. At the same time it manages to spin an excellent action adventure yarn without drowning the movie in car chases and gunfights. Jeff Bridges is excellent as the old Texas Ranger, as is his partner a half Mexican half Comanche played by Alberto Parker. Chris Power and Ben Foster are terrific as the two brothers one desperate, the other crazy who come up with a pretty smart but very risky plot to right an old wrong. Two cameos by a couple of tough waitresses are wonderful. The script is understated, witty, and deals with a panoply of social issues without being wordy or preachy. The direction is crisp and focused. The cinematography make great use of the spare dry Southwestern landscape. I believe you will enjoy this exciting and moving film.
  • liddie-4607821 September 2016
    Not impressed
    Went to watch this movie, and expected good things as the trailer and read up on this film looked all positive. However the story line was really bad, and little happens throughout the film. Very boring and would not recommend it, for anyone who thinks it might be a great action/crime, you are wrong. A very simple story line, and little insight into the brothers lives, its as if you are waiting for the movie to start getting tense, but next thing you know, its the end. The last 20 minutes are probably the best bit of the movie, however not much makes sense. Very disappointed and cant understand how this has gained a high rating.
  • oOoBarracuda7 September 2016
    Hell or High Water
    Warning: Spoilers
    Yet another film that I was looking forward to seeing, I even had to wait for this one to get to my area (one of the many downsides to living in middle America) Hell or High Water was sure to be a treat. I kept hearing positive reviews of this film, and it stayed at 100% on rotten tomatoes for awhile, so I was hopeful. In addition to the positive reviews, I thought Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges, and Gil Birmingham together couldn't a bad film make. The 2016 feature by David Mackenzie tells the tale of 2 brothers who will stop at nothing to save the land of their deceased mother, the last link to their childhood, and the riches that the oil under her land will promise.

    Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) is a Texas lawman weeks before a forced retirement, training Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham) to be able to take his place. Just when it seems like it will be a quiet couple weeks before retirement, a rash of bank robberies occur and Marcus and Alberto take the responsibility to solve the case. Tanner (Ben Foster) and Toby Howard (Chris Pine) have gotten the brunt of many bad situations in their lives. After their mother passed away, they were faced with the realization that the land on which she lived was being seized by the bank. After recently learning that there is a massive amount of oil under that land invigorates the brothers to save the land by any means necessary. Toby has a former wife and a child to think about and believes himself to be indebted to them and wants to gift them the land and the oil so they will always be taken care of. Tanner is constantly on the run, in and out of jail, and has nothing to lose by helping his brother, even if the means are criminal. After weaving together an intricate plan of robbing the very bank responsible for the foreclosure on their mother's land, then securing the deed through that very bank, the two begin an old west style run of bank robberies with a couple of Texas lawmen on their tails.

    As much as I had been looking forward to Hell or High Water, I was monumentally disappointed. Early in the film, we see over the shoulder of Jeff Bridges' character as he is reading his forced retirement letter from the department; this begins the formulaic downturn suffered through the rest of the film. Each pivotal moment was seen coming a mile away and easily predicted. There are few things more boring than watching a lazy movie in which the audience can predict each move made by the characters, and even each piece of dialogue spoken throughout the entire film. Jeff Bridges was flat on screen, Chris Pine was horribly miscast, and there are Grand Canyon sized holes in character development that are never solved. I never knew enough about the characters to become invested in them. Ben Foster was the only shining spot in this film, but even his exceptional acting couldn't save the film. A disappointment all around, I can't figure out yet why Hell or High Water is getting the amount of positivity the film has enjoyed thus far.
  • Stephen Crotty1 October 2016
    Hellishly stupid plot
    Warning: Spoilers
    If the whole plot basis of a film is that someone who owns an asset that can generate 600 thousand dollars a year can't raise 40 thousand dollars to pay off the loan on it, then you really beggar belief. Why would anyone take part in several armed robberies and risk frying on an electric chair rather than spending 30 minutes with a half decent financial adviser is preposterous. If you can suspend disbelief over the ludicrous plot then what do we make of the rest of the film. Jeff Bridges does an amateurish impression of Marlon Brando in the Godfather with his mouth stuffed with tissue so that you struggle to fully understand a single sentence he says. How this film scores a review of 8.2 beggars belief and makes me lose all credibility in review scores on this site. It is currently scoring higher than 'No country for old men' when it's not a patch on that film.
  • Spencer Goodrich7 December 2016
    A Morality Tale Not To Be Missed
    Warning: Spoilers
    The growing pantheon of films featuring bizarre depictions of the American Midwest just received an enthusiastic new member, for once not from the minds of the Coen Brothers. This modern take on the classic "cops and robbers" tale is directed by David Mackenzie in his return to the screen after a three-year hiatus. In fact, if this film accomplishes anything at all it should be to send the message loudly and clearly to any studios hoping to hire Mackenzie in the future: don't rush him.

    The film is centered around a string of bank robberies in Texas committed by Toby Howard (Chris Pine) and his slightly psychotic brother (Ben Foster), all while being pursued by a dogged Sheriff hoping to stave off his retirement a little longer (Jeff Bridges) and his loyal partner (Gil Birmingham). This may seem to be a fairly straightforward story by this description, but the twists of morality and ideas of what the true crime is here make it anything but straightforward.

    The real anchors of the film, as they should be in any character study, are the incredible performances of the cast. Chris Pine has comparatively few lines to the other three major characters, yet he manages to convey Toby's pain and stolid commitment with great skill. Ben Foster's manic glee is a real show stealer in itself, consistently keeping the audience on edge as they try to gauge how close to going over the edge he is in any given scene. Veteran actor Jeff Bridges is predictably great, finding an excellent balance in his sheriff character wherein viewers are rarely sure exactly how capable he is, both physically and mentally, while never doubting his dry wit for a second. Gil Birmingham has the least meaty part to work with, but finds an enjoyable and surprisingly beloved chemistry between himself and Bridges. The actors make viewers care about both pairs on either side, making this the first film I would say that truly makes you dread when these two opposing forces inevitably meet. Many claim it, this one owns it.

    While the performances were undeniably great, it will ultimately be the vivid cinematography that sticks with viewers long after the credits roll. Opening with a 360-degree pan of a small town in the Midwest, we are immediately plunged into this world. The dilapidation is apparent as the camera shows graffiti-soaked walls, vandalism, and general disrepair swamping most of what we see until the bank comes back into the shot. Now we see the bank with new eyes; it is no longer just a bank that we suspect is about to be robbed, we now know it is for some reason the only clean, well-kept building in the surrounding area. This helps key viewers in on the central theme of the film before a word of dialogue is uttered or a single scene transition takes place. From a film lover's perspective, it is breathtaking.

    Moving beyond the opening, there is much more to appreciate here. The wide vistas and blue-yellow color palette of this part of the country is on full display here as Director David Mackenzie never shies away from long, establishing shots of the quiet surroundings. Masterful use of angles accentuates the themes of the film in subtle ways; as the brothers discuss their actions, a low-angle shot is used to give them a sense of power, yet all the while a windmill looms over them, continuously turning its spokes, and serves to underline the idea that the action of the film ultimately will not change anything.

    Sound is not without purpose here, either. Most of the film's sound stays within the diegesis, helping to establish a sense of place within the world. This leads to many quiet moments where the creaking of equipment or the rustling of grass is all that exists to your ear. In addition to rooting viewers, this lack of excessive dramatic flair helps to feed directly into one of the films main themes; that nothing we see here will affect anything. Naturally, if nothing we are witnessing will serve any pretense of changing the problems we see for the better, what would be the point of dressing it up with a sweeping, dramatic score? It would only be dishonest, and dishonesty is best left to the banks.

    At the end of the day, Hell or High Water offers a simple tale told complexly, presented beautifully, arranged painstakingly, and paid for happily. With a few Oscar-worthy performances from the principle actors, incredible visuals, and some heady themes of morality, this film easy ranks among 2016's top releases. Come Hell or High Water, make sure you check it out.
  • Fella_shibby13 December 2016
    Good film with superb acting, awesome screenplay n excellent cinematography.
    Saw this on a rented DVD. Its a western crime drama. Director David Mackenzie (Starred up) did a terrific job. It is a very atmospheric, character driven film n not at all boring. Taylor Sheridan (Sicario) did a fantastic job with the screenplay. He managed to create good tension in a simple robbery film. The acting by the 3 lead is top notch. Jeff bridges, Ben Foster n Chris Pines got into the characters. Its a solidly crafted, well-acted western heist thriller. The film stuns with its cinematography. The sunburnt desolate Texas backdrop creates a very nice visual palette. The colours look great. The lime green Mustang really stands out as a result. The long landscapes shots were awesome. Some may compare it to No country for old men n A place beyond the pines. Check out the scene of the rattlesnake waitress.
  • Movie Watcher25 August 2016
    Hell No!
    Warning: Spoilers
    At the time I saw it, IMDb had this rated at 8.3!?!?? Damn few movies get that high of a rating, so I was prepared to be entertained by a well-crafted plot. What I got was a slow moving, meandering bank robbery crime spree yarn, which turns totally senseless and absurd when we finally find out what the overall "plan" was, and what the motivation for doing it all was - $50K heisted, three innocent people dead plus the planned (!) self-sacrifice of one of the bank-robbing protagonists: It's all done for the two kids of our divorced loser "hero," "so they don't have to be poor." REALLY??? What-a-bunch-of CRAP.

    It's the obligatory evil bankers vs. the self-pitying mortgagor, who can only think of using today's all to familiar problem solving solution: violence. Plot holes and absurdities absolutely abound along the way crafted with the hopes that viewers will be as simple minded as the story being told.

    With the exception of the all too brief appearance of the delightfully gruff T Bone Café waitress, who gave the best delivery of lines in the movie, the "acting" was a wasteland (unless you're into watching the camera pan Chris Pine posing). Poor Jeff Bridges, who has given us so many memorable performances, was little more than a sad, mumbling caricature of himself. On the plus side, the visual portrayal of West Texas as starkly and hopelessly bleak was well done.

    P.S. FACT CHECK: There are many (most?) reviewers who have willingly (eagerly?) bought into the the totally false central premise of the plot that the bank was going to own/acquire the ranch upon foreclosure, and was therefore the evil "Bad Guy," deserving of being robbed repeatedly (and their guard murdered). WRONG!

    Foreclosures are governed by law which results in a advertised Public Auction with the property going to the highest public bidder, with any money received over the loan amount owed plus expenses going back to the Mortgagor.

    Also, the evil "Bad Guy" bank officer whose portrayal was demonized in the movie HAD to pay the delinquent property taxes on the property to prevent it from being sold at public auction by the Tax Collector.
  • CinemaClown29 December 2016
    A Gritty, Rugged & Violent Western That's Destined To Garner A Cult Following.
    Blending the good, old-fashioned ruggedness of westerns with the cold-hearted brutality of crime thrillers, Hell or High Water is an intelligently scripted & smartly directed tale of family, sacrifice & personal duty that is further uplifted by its set of badass characters & solid performances from its cast, and is impressive enough to rank amongst the finest films of the year.

    The story of Hell or High Water unfolds in Texas and follows two brothers who carry out a series of bank robberies to pay off the mortgage for their ranch as some twisted form of poetic justice. The case is given to two Texas Rangers who are able to deduce a pattern in their operation and wait for them at what they determine to be the siblings' next target but things head for the worse real soon.

    Confidently directed by David Mackenzie, the story is cleverly paced & expertly crafted from start to finish, and manages to be gripping until the very end. The screenplay is even better as all events that transpire over the course of its runtime unfold in a seamless, sensible fashion with few twists surfacing every now & then, plus each n every conversation carry weight & meaning behind those words.

    Shot in sparsely populated areas with rural settings, the film is beautiful to look at and makes apt use of warm colour palette & camera angles to further enhance its imagery. Editing is excellently carried out, for it provides a tighter structure to its narrative and allows its characters to evolve at their own pace. Music is complimentary to the unfolding events and although the gunplay it has in store is brutal, it certainly isn't mindless.

    Coming to the performances, Hell or High Water features a committed cast in Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster & Gil Birmingham, and each one of them chip in with terrific inputs. Bridges is in as the ageing Texas Ranger with Birmingham as his fellow partner, Pine & Foster play the two brothers and although everyone is despicable in one form or another, their finely handled character arcs & fully-developed relationship dynamics do allow the viewers to invest in their journey.

    On an overall scale, Hell or High Water is one of the most fulfilling film experiences of 2016 for me, and easily packs one of the best screenplays of the year. The plot is lean, the characters are fully- fledged, and the interaction between them only adds more meat to their arcs, not to mention that the actors do an outstanding job in their given roles to make it one of the most complete films of the year. Destined to garner a cult following & scoring high marks in nearly all filmmaking aspects, Hell or High Water is absolutely worth your time & money. Don't miss it.
  • Tehmeh27 March 2017
    Almost a western, very humane.
    "Hell or High Water" is a movie that doesn't attract large audiences, hence why its theatrical release was quite small. But then again these kind of movies need to exist, and not only on home video. I would've enjoyed this one in a theater, but my only option was to wait for the DVD. Not that it's a bad movie to watch at home, it's certainly not.

    Everyone has already said that this movie feels like a western. They are right. They're not talking about gunfights, but simple, good characters in a certain environment instead. The characters are all at the verge of their destiny. As soon as the movie starts, you feel that there is an end sneaking upon these people, you instantly perceive these characters as tragic. Same with the environment: people are poor, losing their jobs and houses, these small desert towns are nearly empty. It's a perfect setting for a simple story.

    Don't think of "Hell or High Water" as an action movie. It won't deliver as such. Think of it as a character-driven little story. One could say it's a crime movie, but it's more like drama. It's a subdued drama, since it doesn't try to force you to care. It's not a pretentious tear-jerker designed to manipulate your feelings. The story and the characters have plenty of humanity. The struggles feel real and nothing is too much on the nose, which allows the characters (and actors) to breathe, to just do their job in a more natural manner.

    Everyone is very good in this movie. First of all, slow clap to Chris Pine. He's not just a pretty boy anymore, he really did a good job. But Ben Foster was simply great. I've been missing that guy. He's a really good actor, but doesn't seem to work that much and too often gets stuck in bad or mediocre movies. Not this time, good job Ben. Of course Jeff Bridges is really good, that's a given, but so is his partner Gil Birmingham. Everyone on the screen is good, even the few supporting actors and extras. It's rewarding to watch a movie where the actors can actually do their job, and where people responsible for the project actually care about the art form.

    I haven't seen any movies from director David Mackenzie, but after this I just might. The direction was solid, but so was Taylor Sheridan's script. Sheridan is someone who just came out of nowhere, seemingly. He scripted the great "Sicario", and now this. Hollywood, give this man jobs. All the jobs. I'm very interested in seeing his next movie. Good screenwriters are very, very rare nowadays.

    The movie is well-shot too. It's not trying to impress you, there aren't a lot of in-your-face fancy shots, but must like the movie itself, it's subdued and conveys a lot of expression nonetheless. The music by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis was a welcome thing.

    I don't really have a lot of gripes about this movie. It didn't quite strike me as a modern masterpiece, so perhaps I would've wanted a little more...something. The ending left something to be desired, I guess. I would've hoped for a little more punch. Perhaps some more edge, excitement and sentimentality, but I also have to acknowledge that "Hell or High Water" was so good because it lacked some of these things. It could have felt forced and compromised otherwise.

    In conclusion, it's a very good movie. A well-crafted and charming film that's allowed to be what it is, and where the little things matter. I'm happy I bought it.
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