Saturday, 3 June 2017

Hell or High Water (2016) - Film Review


*Originally written June 3rd, 2017*

Hell or High Water blew me away with its release last year and it still has that effect on me rewatching it nearly a year later on Blu-ray. A modern masterpiece of a neo-western. A gorgeous, emotional and smart thriller that's as entertaining as it is meaningful.

This is a hard-boiled, no-nonsense 100 minute bank heist thriller about two brothers robbing banks to raise money to save their farm while they have an ageing cop on their trail who is on the verge of retirement. It's a simple "Cops and Robbers" story that works far better than it had any right to.

Chris Pine
It's beautifully shot, invoking other contempary westens like the Coen Brothers No Country for Old Men with some shades of humour that reminded me of the criminally underrated TV show Justified.

There's tons of gorgeous landscape shots of Texas and its surrounding barren areas. The colour palet is vibrant with strong yellows and oranges. I loved the use of country music too, although I would have liked to have seen at least one Johnny Cash song used, but hey, that's just me being an asshole.

Chris Pine and Ben Foster give the performance of their careers as the two brothers working their way through Texas banks. Foster does his usual "crazy" thing, but it counterbalanced by Pine's subdued and more subtle performance. The two bring genuine heart and emotion to the story, which is amazing considering it's only 100 minutes long. Jeff Bridges is also excellent as the cop on their tale and on the verge of retirement. I remember it being a little rough to understand his accent at the cinema, so I'm glad I got to rewatch it with subtitles. It really helped.

Ben Foster
David McKenzie's direction is masterful. Perfectly mixing Heat style set-pieces with small-scale family drama. There really is an incredible balance to Hell or High Water's pacing. The action is violent, sometimes grotesque, but never fun and everything has consequences. It's also all very small in scale, which is some I always appreciate and hits a lot of western tropes that mix perfectly into a modern day crime story. This could have taken place in the 1800's and aside from some obvious aesthetics, the story would have played out the same.

Hell or High Water is a modern masterpiece. Strong in character, tone, action and just a damn good time. 100 minutes of no-nonsense, straight to the point brilliance. I cannot recommend Hell or High Water enough.

10/10 Dans

Hell or High Water is out now on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
Watch the trailer below:
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