At its heart, Hell or High Water is about the perfect crime (whether the crime is made by the robbers or the bank is left to the audience). The backdrop is a Texas dessert covered by closed factories and failing economies. Perched in the middle are two anti-heroes trying to do right by their mother and family.
Midland Bank has claimed their mother’s house. By doing so, Toby and Tanner become the unlikeliest pair of anti-heroes. They plan to rob Midland, and use the money to help their family. Ben Foster is cravenly reckless. He’s at the end of the bar, curling one finger, begging you to come over. You know you shouldn’t, but you do it anyways. Chris Pine impresses as the straight man. Not as witty as his Cpt. Kirk counterpart, but charming. Quietly intelligent and discipline.
Jeff Bridges (Marcus Hamilton) rekindling his Rooster Cogburn (not this Rooster) drawl goes in pursuit of the two. Hamilton is near retirement. However, the case falls on his desk. The bills taken in these robberies are too low for the federal government to care about, and too high to be ignored. Bridges as usual makes acting deceptively easy. His barbs with Gil Birmingham (Alberto Parker) are highlights. They share a chemistry of playful racist grenades disguised as insults, Bridges about Gil’s Native American heritage, Gil toward Bridges’ whiteness. Lovingly lobed, the grenades often hitting the mark. Bridges’ ability to protect his performance allows for two emotional climaxes within the span of five minutes. He is sure to be an Oscar contender.
Hell or High Water mixes dizzying robberies and gun fights with barren land and its people stripped by banks. It’s an economic message resonating deeply with too big to fail banks, and a cultural distrust of them. Hell or High Water plays on these insecurities with precision and depth. Bridges………..beam me-up Scotty…………Woody Harrelson……………….the grid………………..is worth seeing.
Check out my previous review of Little Men