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The Highwaymen: A film about bravery of Texas Rangers

  • Published at 07:22 pm April 8th, 2019
Still from 'The Highwaymen'
Woody Harrrelson and Kevin Costner in the Netflix original film 'The Highwaymen' | IMDb

However, as the movie plot unfolds, it becomes more about a pair of Texas Rangers who come out of retirement to catch the criminal couple. In contrast, the 1967 biographical drama film, 'Bonnie and Clyde,' focused more on the couple's lives

Netflix original film “The Highwaymen” is based on the true story of infamous outlaws Bonnie and Clyde who terrorized and travelled across the central United States during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

However, as the movie plot unfolds, it becomes more about a pair of Texas Rangers who come out of retirement to catch the criminal couple. In contrast, the 1967 biographical drama film, “Bonnie and Clyde," focused more on the couple's lives.

That film was considered a landmark production, and is still regarded as one of the first films of the New Hollywood era, breaking many cinematic taboos.

In the latest Netflix offering, we see Governor Ma Ferguson (Kathy Bates) talking with Texas Department of Corrections chief Lee Simmons, who tries to persuade her to hire former Ranger Frank Hamer (Kevin Costner) to track down the criminals. 

Initially, Ferguson and her staff seem sceptical, since they have disbanded the Rangers for more advanced units. But the governor reluctantly allows Simmons to go ahead with his plan and recruit the ex-Texas Ranger.

On the other hand, Hammer hesitates because of his family. But he and his wife accept the offer after hearing about a devastating shootout incident in Missouri by the infamous couple. 

Hammer's former partner, Benjamin Maney Gault (Woody Harrelson) joins him in the mission, and the two Rangers hit the road to capture the nation's most notorious criminal pair.

The film shows that the Rangers actually have a proper plan to capture the couple - dead or alive. The FBI doesn’t like the idea of hiring back the Rangers, and make their work difficult. But the Rangers dominate the FBI with their intellect. 

I personally liked the cinematography of this film. John Schwartzman’s camera work sets the mood of 1930s central USA perfectly. The colour grading is also great. 

It is the screenplay and dialogues that make the film somewhat dull. As a viewer, I expected more action than the long conversations between the two Rangers. The story of Bonnie and Clyde is also told through a third person. In the film, it is also not clear why the couple became famous among the people despite being criminals.

Thomas Newman, who is known for his music score in films like “The Help”, “Skyfall” and “American Beauty,” did a brilliant job in bringing out a Southern vibe through the music, which is associated with the cinematography. 

Set and costume designs of the film are complementary, and bring back the Southern charm of the old days.  

Only the poor character progressions make the film a disappointing one. It is an average film, which had the potential to be great.