HELL OR HIGH WATER (2016)

hell-or-high-water-2Hell Or High Water is directed by David Mackenzie, the man who directed Starred Up, Perfect Sense and Hallam Foe. I haven’t seen any of those films and had absolutely no idea about the man’s work or style for that matter. So I walked into this film with an open mind. All I knew about this film was the fact that it was a western (which is made clear from the posters itself) and that it was about bank heists. I am very keen about heist movies and so watching this film became imperative for me. The amount of Oscar buzz that it was generating was also another huge pull.

The film revolves around two brothers who find themselves on hell-or-high-water-4the wrong side of a loan which will very soon foreclose a ranch that they own. They have recently discovered oil on their ranch and believe that the ranch will be their way out of their poverty stricken life. But how to save the ranch from foreclosure? They devise a plan to rob the various branches of the very same bank that is foreclosing their property and pay them back their own money. The plan starts working fine as they are not only able to rob the banks but also successfully launder the money through casinos. But trouble starts when an aging but smart law enforcer starts understanding their plan and is able to almost predict which bank they will rob next.

hell-or-high-water-1Hell Or High Water is a thrilling ride. The film establishes a rapport with the viewer from the very first scene. The robberies, even though not all that elaborate, are amusing to look at. As the film progresses we get to know the two brothers better and also their background. This further takes us deeper into the narrative and drama. The two brothers have their share of differences. I just loved the part where they show dialog between the brothers. While one of them is almost a soft heart-ed family man, the other is an ex-con and convict. Thus their ways of approaching a common matter are very different which incidentally brings some interesting drama to the screen.

Chris Pine is great as Toby Howard. He can be brutal and relentless when he has to be but hell-or-high-water-3most of the time, he is someone who is much more in touch with his humane side than his over the top brother. There is a scene where he shares a quiet moment with one of his sons, who initially seems to be oblivious to him but as the discussion goes on, he gets more and more comfortable with him. This discussion is exudes warmth as we look at it. In the end of the film, he shares another one to one with the law enforcer’s character played by Jeff Bridges. This discussion is of a totally different mood.

hell-or-high-water-5Ben foster plays the ex-con brother Tanner. He is plain crazy and totally out of his mind. I just loved his act. He is so over the top that you cannot help but love his essay. Foster suits the role completely and I believe there couldn’t have been anyone else playing this character. His one to ones with his brother and his mannerisms during the robberies are the high points of his act. His act is elevated by the sheer comfort that he has playing the character. Jeff Bridges is brilliant. He plays an aging law enforcer who may be on the way out but has the guile and smartness to nail the hardest and smartest of the criminals. His act brings out this fact wonderfully. The only issue I had with his character was the manner in which he spoke. It was almost incomprehensible at times.

The film toggles between being a heist film and an intense drama. it’s not easy to find those hell-or-high-water-1combinations often in Hollywood these days. Even though it’s unlikely and the two have absolutely no connection, the film kept reminding me of “No Country For Old Men”. The speed at which the film progresses and the manner in which the narrative unfolds has a very similar vibe to it. At least that was the case for me. Technically speaking, “Hell Or High Water” is flawless. There isn’t a single scene or sequence that feels forced or that is expendable. I was in love with the manner in which they shot the getaway sequences. They reminded me of the getaway scenes in “War Of The Worlds” where Tom Cruise escapes in a car with his family after the aliens attack. It’s a scene brimming with energy. The brief action sequences that are there are also proficiently done. The climax especially is done with breathtaking physicality.

Overall, Hell Or High Water is an engrossing and entertaining fall back on the bank heist genre that unfolds in the west. This could be the film to re-invigorate the western. Even if it is not, It will still remain a very competitive film that has a lot of re-see value.

Rating : 3.5/5 (3.5 out of 5 Stars)

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