Hell or High Water – 4.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

hell or high waterHell or High Water – 4.5/5 – The intriguing thing from watching film is the evolution of a particular line.  It is that line of the worth wild moment.  In that moment, you find something that becomes cohesive, contextual and most of all, entertaining in its own right.  That kind of line is what you find in this film; Hell or High Water.  A simplistic story of characterized victims of society; Hell or High Water presents an equivocal journey that is entertaining on a relatable human trait.  With great acting, straightforward storytelling and great detail to visuals, this is a classic in the making.  I can say that Hell or High Water is one of the best films of 2016.

Premise: Two brothers hatch a desperate scheme to save their family farm.  With the Texas Rangers on their tail; will they be able to complete their plan without reaching their demise.

This movie focuses on three characters:

Ben Foster as Tanner Howard

Chris Pine as Toby Howard

Jeff Bridges as Marcus Hamilton

These three do an amazing job in their roles.  With a story driven by the individuality of choice against circumstance, you get to see persistence, veracity and moral ambiguity come across in a straight forward complexion by these three actors.  From the ongoing bank robberies, family dilemma and police investigation, you get a visual of the flawed conviction to push forward without any regard.  Regardless of what action is taken, the Howard Brothers (played by Foster and Pine), have a realistic draw.  From the surface, there is a driven dynamic that deeply invokes their brotherhood.  Through there comical banter to their serious conversations, it becomes a thought provoking relationship.  Foster’s Tanner is a hardnose, arrogant and brutish man.  He is someone that won’t think twice to solving a problem with a few bullets to the head.  On the other side, Pine’s Toby is a calm, collective and subtle thinking’s man.  He is one who plans out everything before taking action; someone that can see what lies ahead of the present situation.  Their combination of brains and force helps heighten their intricate personalities.  This allows for humanistic qualities to shine and reflection upon their own personal flaws as men and brothers.  It is a realistic ‘brotherly’ relationship.  When it comes to Jeff Bridges’ Marcus Hamilton, he portrays a man who is a standard fixture of a Texas Rangers.  He is one that’s hell bent on having one last hurrah before retirement.  He gives us (through his acting) a mixture of physical prowess and intellectually decisive tone.  Marcus sees the big picture, but knows when to go against the grain.  The subtlety in his unorthodox methods builds upon wits of the brash kind.  He has a slick dialect, whimsical one-liners (especially with his partner), but provides conversations that shows he understands the depths of decisive and calculative responses.  He lavishes in his own pride, but ironically stays humble when faced with the facts of his own personal image.   His character provides a parallel to the brothers dynamic; building a hardy complexion of deep characterization that brings about truth upon what family and brotherhood means.  The rest of the cast are all standard archetypes.  There isn’t anything that comes across as deeply provoking (like the main three), but they do enough to provide a believable world of what is West Texas.

The direction tackles the script by providing storytelling within a simplistic approach.  Being a common look at the areas and culture of West Texas, it takes the ideals of a traditional western genre film and places it against a modernized setting.  In doing this, it brings together aspects of two things:

  1. Dialogue Driven Plot
  2. Thematic Characterization

By spinning these concepts within an applicable setting, it builds upon a believable factor for the audience.  This helps provide a grounded approach for the three main characters and their distinct individual quests within the film’s ‘playground’.  As we start from the basic ongoing bank robberies that leads to the Texas Rangers involvement, the plot moves along a methodical directive.  This allows for a common draw for the characters to move organically around the actions, conflicts and consequences of each situation.  This invokes the natural layer of humanistic themes.  As you continue on the paralleling journey that becomes a ‘cat and mouse’ game; it allows the story to evolve into an original complexion of the characters themselves.  This (in turn) brings about a deeply involved narrative that drives home the ironic nature of the plot devices of common bank heist, procedural criminal investigations and family drama tropes.  As the pace moves in a linear fashion through the first two acts, the audience will begin to see a bigger picture to the decisive actions that all three characters take.  This shows that their individual choice against the circumstance of society becomes a larger reflection of morality being blurred between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.  This is driven home by a lot of dialogue heavy scenes packed between all the action scenes that ensue.  All of this is leveled by the dynamic of realism and grounded aspects of the characters’ thorough and decisive choices.  The layers of each of them becomes flawed within righteous conviction, showing how the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ become one in the same.  This makes the direction stand out beyond the generic detail; allowing the characters and themes of ‘everyday’ elements to become enthralling and entertaining in a full experience.  Once you get to the final act, it is driven by an unpredictable approach.  This will leave a lasting effect by its slow burn method and heavy tonal posture.  Once the epilogue hits; it leads to a reasonable conclusion.  This helps add flavor to the basic draw, allowing the situation to create an eye of what it means to ‘fight for family’.

The visuals parallel the ongoing approach of the story and characters.  The cinematography is grounded in what is the ‘overall’ aspect of West Texas.  From the vast open prairies, the rocky countryside and the empty small towns, you see the complexion of realism and ominous tones throughout.  You can feel the brevity of the situation, but also the anguish of facts that mirror everyday society.  This is also built through the situational camera techniques and grain/saturated lens.  The score helps add a cultural layer.  Outside of the predictable soundtrack choices, the music stays on par with the leveling approach of the rest of the film.

Hell or High Water is simple storytelling that deeply involves characterization and thematic detail.   There is an irony to its intensity; one that brings excitement to a great a script without the frills of Hollywood saturation.  If you’re a fan of great character driven films, this is one for you.  This is one of the best films of 2016, one that is worth the full price of admission at the theaters.

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