Hell or High Water follows two brothers, Tanner and Toby, as they crusade through West Texas with a carefully crafted bank robbing system. The brothers are played by Chris Pine and Ben Foster. Tepid on their trail are the Texas Rangers, Marcus and Alberto. Played by Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham, respectively. The film falls victim to a few western clichés, the robin hood story and the soon-to-be retired Ranger on board for one last hurrah, however the story has some unexpected turns. It is nimble and poignant in terms of how it portrays lower class society. The film touches on several relevant themes to the current social climate, including: the banking system, race, greed, and the effects all of these have on the working class.
The bank robbing brothers are driven by a specific goal. This is not a typical bank robbing story where the purpose of the theft is to feel alive or driven by greed. The theft itself is just a means to an end, a specific end that is aimed to stick it to the bank in more ways than one.
The cinematic pairs in this film are two sides of the same coin; they are almost more different than similar. In terms of the brothers, Toby and Tanner, played by Pine and Foster, the viewer is presented with a villain protagonist. In Pine we have the “hero” type and with Foster we have the typical villain. Together they make a villain protagonist duo where the viewers sympathy and disdain for the characters is blurred. Similarly, the Rangers, Marcus and Alberto, played by Bridges and Birmingham, have a bittersweet relationship that never gives the viewer a sense of true companionship.
The narrative came across slightly cliche with the typical Robin Hood story, steal from the rich and give to the poor, and the aged authority figure on the edge of retirement with one last case. With that said there were unexpected turns and great character development that makes up for any shortcomings. The story excelled at incorporating the role of money, greed, oil, race, the banking system and its effects on the working class.
The film was beautifully shot and I am excited to see future projects from this exceptional director.
Directed by: David Mackenzie
Cinematography: Giles Nuttgens
Written by: Taylor Sheridan
Music by: Nick Cave, Warren Ellis
Starring: Ben Foster, Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges, Gil Birmingham
Runtime: 1h 42m
Genre: Crime, Drama, Western
Distributed by: Lionsgate , CBS Films