Hell or High Water
will possibly land in the top 10, if not the top five, best films of 2016. One thing can’t really be disputed is the amazing performances by both Chris Pine and Ben Foster. With the addition of the ever-so-reliable grit of Jeff Bridges, it’s like watching a modern day Western, where outlaws roamed the towns of west Texas, robbing banks.
However, this isn’t a heist film. It’s about two brothers running away from a turbulent past with no hope for the future. Toby (Pine) and Tanner (Foster) Howard are two brothers who are almost polar opposites, but find themselves taking part in a dangerous stage of their lives for a common purpose. Toby is, even though frightening when provoked, is the level headed one. Tanner, on the other hand, is a former convict with reckless behaviour.
Toby goes along with the string of bank robberies in order to keep his ex-wife and sons financially stable for the future, while saving the family ranch. His older brother Tanner teams up with him for the same exact reason. There’s a deadline to meet before the bank takes it all, so naturally, the Howard boys result to the desperate scheme.
The script is nothing grand nor is it complicated. The story itself is about the characters and human drama. Being tracked down by Marcus Hamilton (Bridges), the tension and unspoken love between the brothers can hit home. There isn’t too much to divulge on their past either. The entire film feels like an “Old West” thriller, pacing itself mighty fine, eventually leading to a very satisfying climax.
The direction by David Mackenzie should also be applauded, successfully capturing the essence of old, high-tension Westerns. From the dialogue to the editing, what you see in the final cut is worth every second. And dare we say, this is possibly Chris Pine’s best performance of his career. In addition, it’s important to note that Ben Foster is criminally underrated. Time after time, Foster has shown the intensity of each character he has ever played. It would be a shame of he wasn’t considered for at least a nomination for best supporting actor.
Overall, we have yet another amazing work on film that wasn’t a huge hit in the box office. But that’s the whole point of these releases. They aren’t here to rack on millions on top of millions at the box office. They are here to tell a damn good story with equally engaging characters.