So ladies and gents, I’m pretty sure I’ve just returned from seeing one of the best movies of the year. Hell Or High Water is a sort of neo Western, akin to No Country for Old Men, this is one of those movies that seems to get everything right. From the story and actors to the cinematography and music, it succeeds wonderfully. Let’s dig in.
Hell or High Water tells the story of two West Texas brothers who embark on a spree of bank robberies, in order to save their family ranch, all while being hounded by two Texas Rangers who basically behave like brothers. Just two good old boys. Never meanin’ no harm. This isn’t a new trope by any means but this movie somehow just does it better than the others. That’s the trick. If you’re going to use a common premise, use it well.
The acting in this movie was spot on. I’ve always loved Jeff Bridges but I was a little nervous about Chris Pine. That’s not to say he isn’t a good actor because he definitely is. I just didn’t know if he could pull off Toby the West Texas bank robber, but sure as shit he did. He did a beautiful job of portraying Toby as a man who has no desire to rob banks, but has been pushed to his breaking point. It’s a Jean Valjean thing, for sure, but that’s a common theme. What happens when a good man is pushed to the breaking point. Is it wrong to steal from corrupt, soulless, and FDIC insured banks? Some say hell no.
Ben Foster is equally as good as Toby’s unhinged ex-con brother, who seems to be enjoying his life as an outlaw. Jeff Bridges is again excellent as a Texas Ranger close to forced retirement. Yes, I know. Another haggard trope. The cop close to retirement on one last job is nothing new but Jeff Bridges somehow breaths new life into his role. Yes, he is getting too old for this shit, but Jeff Bridges was born for the Western, and this film shows it.
Vistas Be Scenic AF
The film itself is beautiful. The cinematography and wide shots of the deserts and prairies stands up to just about any Western you can think of. It’s not The Revenant, but the film succeeds in that the cinematography alone gave this modern Western an old feel, and displays that certain parts of the West are still as wide open and wild as it ever was. Under the veneer of modernity beats the heart of the Wild West, except now bank robbers use trucks instead of horses. Although the film is set in West Texas it was filmed in New Mexico. But so what.
Cinematography and scenery like this that remind us why we love the Western.
Nick Cave Nails It
The soundtrack was just the icing on an already excellent cake. It’s another masterwork by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, a team who worked together on other Westerns such as The Proposition and The Assassination of Jesse James. Both of which are excellent films in their own right.
Nick Cave does an incredible job of composing music that truly resonates with the landscape yet doesn’t overwhelm the movie. He always does such an incredible job with Western films it’s less like he composed pieces for the movie and more like the music and the film were both placed in a loom and woven together perfectly.
Go See This Movie. It’s Art.
So guys what I’m saying is go see this movie. Go sit in the theater and breathe in the scenery. Do it right away. Movies like this don’t stay in theaters for months. Know that if you don’t see this movie you are doing yourselves a disservice.
Hopefully this movie is a success and we get to see a lot more films like this. With any luck The Magnificent Seven will be good and we’ll have ourselves a bit of a Western resurgence. I mean, shit, we could use it. I’m beginning to feel like all I write about are superhero movies, and I want so much more than that. Go see it. Tell me what you think.
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