Hell Or High Water Review

Two brothers set out on a desperate scheme in order to save their family’s ranch

Hell Or High Water is a 2016 film directed by David Mackenzie and written by Taylor Sheridan. It is a film about a divorced father and his ex-con brother who resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family’s farm in West Texas.

I saw the trailer only recently, and right after it was done, I knew I had to check this movie out. It was right up my alley. I am definitely a sucker for a good heist flick-one of my favourite genres of film. They’re always ridiculously fun and thrilling.

The film is directed by David Mackenzie. I’ve never heard this name before seeing this movie, but after seeing how it was filmed, I definitely want to check out his other films. He directed Perfect Sense(2011), Haallam Foe(2007) and Young Adam(2003).

I have a soft spot for cool camera movements and from the first shot I was hooked. He builds tension so well in how the camera moves and is cut.

I’ll give you the opening scene and the camera movement. The film opens with a long camera take. A blue car is driving up the street and the camera slowly moves over to a bank employee smoking a cigarette in her car. The film pans back over to the blue car, as it turns in behind the bank. At the last second before the car goes behind the building, the woman is seen smoking the last of her cigarette and she starts walking over to the front door. As soon as she attempts to open the door, two masked robbers hold a gun to the back of her head and order her to open the door. It is not until we’re inside the bank do we get the first cut and the dialogue begins.

Like I said earlier, I am definitely a sucker for this type of camera work. It builds a lot of tension and the director shows you exactly what you’re meant to see. Its like you’re sitting outside on a porch having a coffee and you’re watching the mayhem thats about to ensue. The direction of this film is just brilliant throughout. Big props to David Mackenzie.

The film is also written by Taylor Sheridan, who acted in a bunch of different TV shows including: Veronica Mars (2004-2007), where he played a character by the name of Danny Boyd; and Sons of Anarchy (2008-2014), in which he played Deputy Chief David Hale. I don’t have much knowledge of his acting background, but last year he wrote Denis Villeneuve’s film Sicario, which turned out to be one of my favourite films of 2015. He is a wizard of interesting dialogue. I’m intrigued to see his first directorial debut called Wind River, which is a thriller set to be released in 2017. He will be directing and writing Wind River, and it will star Elizabeth Olsen, Jeremy Renner and Jon Berthal.

Its always fun seeing films by directors and writers you aren’t familiar with because you don’t have that bias going in that “so and so has never made a bad movie or written a bad movie.” I’ll admit my biases towards directors include David Fincher, Denis Villeneuve and Christopher Nolan. If you slap their name on anything, I’m definitely going to watch it and love it… No question. Seriously, don’t ask me questions about it. That is just the way it is.

The film stars Chris Pine, who plays the divorced father. His film roles consist of the new Star Trek trilogy(2009-2016) where he plays Captain Kirk, and This Means War(2012). I think he’s a talented actor. I’m always intrigued when actors, who are well known for playing a certain character, take a completely opposite role. I thought Chris Pine was brilliant in this film; he was a very smart, very likeable guy. You felt bad for him for going through the events that he has to go through. His ex-con brother, Tanner, is played by Ben Foster. Ben Foster has been around for a while, but I don’t think he’s super well known, and if he is, I don’t hear many people talk about him. He’s appeared in films such as Get Over It(2001), The Punisher(2004), Hostage(2005), and Alpha Dog(2006). I’ve always enjoyed his acting. I think he can be in anything and excel. He is definitely a brilliant bad guy, and I thought he did a very convincing job in this.

Lastly, the film stars an Oscar winner… you’ve probably heard of him… if you haven’t you may have been living under a rock: Jeff Bridges! Jeff Bridges plays a cop by the name of Marcus Hamilton, who is a soon to be retired. He is the ranger who is trying to capture the two brothers. Jeff Bridges has been in so much, but his stand out roles include The Big Lebowski(1998), True Grit(2010), and TRON(1982)/TRON Legacy(2010). He won his Oscar in 2010 for Crazy Heart, which was a brilliant film. Well deserved of such a brilliant actor. Of course he’s been in more, but to name off his whole filmography and everything I liked that he was in, we would be here for a few days, and I don’t want that. Do you want that? Didn’t think so. Anyway, Jeff Bridges was extremely likeable and I enjoyed his character.

Everything about this movie is great. The script is extremely well-written and humorous. I didn’t expect there to be comedy in the film, but was pleasantly surprised. The direction and camera work was incredible, and the cinematography on top of that was great. The characters were all likeable and interesting. I cared for everyone and the chemistry was seemingly genuine.

The best part was that it was its own film in a genre of films that have been around for a long time. Heist films are either masterful or horrendous.. Hell Or High Water exceeds as its own heist film that presented smart characters and smart actions.

Honestly, I really didn’t have any problems with this film. I thought it was extremely well made, well acted, well directed and well written. Its a film that begs to be seen, and it kind of makes me sad that here in Halifax, it is playing at only one theatre.  Its release is limited, but I implore you… If Hell Or High Water is playing in your city, and you’re in the mood for a damn good heist film or a great crime drama, look no further than Hell Or High Water.

I would give Hell Or High Water a 5/5 for a superb story with great entertainment value.

Until next time!


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