‘Hell or High Water’ offers a fresh take on the classic Western genre. Directed by David Mackenzie and featuring Chris Pine in a role that’s different than his previous stereotypes, the film, released on August 11, 2016, has garnered universal acclaim following its release. Let’s see if it’s a must-watch for you.
The Film’s Premise
Set in West Texas but filmed in New Mexico, ‘Hell or High Water‘ explores the story of two brothers, Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster), who resort to bank robberies as a desperate measure to salvage their family ranch. The plot unfolds against a backdrop of small towns on the verge of collapse to point out the economic struggles of the region.
The film’s opening scene, a well-executed bank robbery, sets the stage for the ensuing cat-and-mouse game between the brothers and Texas Rangers Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham). The narrative is elevated by the screenplay by Taylor Sheridan, known for his work in ‘Sicario.’
Why You Should Watch ‘Hell or High Water’?
One of the film’s strengths lies in its character development.
Chris Pine’s portrayal of Toby is a departure from his conventional roles. Ben Foster, as the unpredictable Tanner, delivers a performance that adds depth to the character dynamics. Jeff Bridges is perfectly cast as the Texas Ranger nearing retirement. Sheridan, on the other hand, makes a cameo appearance as a cowboy in the film.
The supporting characters, including minor roles like the truck driver, the man with a gun, and the old waitress, contribute to the film’s richness. Each character, no matter how brief their appearance, is thoughtfully crafted to offer a perspective on the economic hardships portrayed in the movie.
‘Hell or High Water’ manages to address contemporary issues without veering into political territory. The film represents the gun culture of Texas, portraying it realistically without taking a stance. The portrayal of banks as antagonists is nuanced to emphasize the financial struggles of regular employees.
The film’s success extends beyond its narrative. Cinematographically, it is stark, breathtaking, and visually stunning. The music complements the Western atmosphere and contributes to the overall immersive experience. The decision to film in New Mexico captures the feel of the West, even if it isn’t West Texas.
The Film’s Critical Reception
Following its release, ‘Hell or High Water’ received universal acclaim. It has a Rotten Tomatoes approval rating of 97% and a Metacritic score of 88 out of 100. Reviews highlight the film’s confident pacing, well-bodied characters, and avoidance of mindless gunplay.
So, ‘Hell or High Water’ is a recommended watch for those who like well-crafted storytelling, strong character performances, and a Western feel.