Hell Or High Water Dir: David Makenzie


Starring: Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges, Gil Birmingham

Just in time for Oscar season, Hell Or High Water has been released on DVD/Blu-Ray. If you missed this little gem on its cinematic release, make sure you take this opportunity to see it now.

Described as a neo-Western, a heist picture, a buddy film, an action-thriller, Hell Or High Water is all of these, but above all it is simply an excellent bit of filmmaking. The look and feel of the film harkens back to my favourite filmmaking era…the late 60s, early 70s when Hollywood was breaking new ground with films like Bonnie & Clyde, The Last Picture Show and Dog Day Afternoon.

Hell Or High Water contains elements of all three of those pictures…heck Jeff Bridges himself starred in 1971’s The Last Picture Show…but this is very much a film about contemporary issues.

Things start out with a bang as we watch Chris Pine, playing a down and out West Texas divorcee named Toby Howard, robbing a bank with his short-fused younger brother Tanner (Ben Foster), who is just recently out of prison for…bank robbery.

Until now, Toby has kept his nose clean, but with the bank about to foreclose on his family home, he feels he has no choice but to take matters into his own hands. His brother is more than happy to help.

So, as Toby and Tanner race around West Texas, robbing small branches of the Texas Midland Bank (the bank that is also threatening foreclosure), two Texas Rangers hit the road, trying to anticipate their next move and bring them to justice.

The rangers are Marcus Hamilton…played by Jeff Bridges…whose retirement is fast approaching and his partner Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham) and Mexican/Native American who has to put up with Hamilton’s constant stream of racist jokes.

The film is a multi-layered affair…we learn about the complex relationship between the two brother and the two Rangers. It is also a commentary on the recent financial mortgage crisis in the US and how big business has practically eliminated the middle class.

It is also an action-packed bank heist/road film.

Scottish director David Makenzie gets the look and feel just right, thanks largely to native Texas screenplay writer Taylor Sheridan. The script is devoid of stereotypes and clichés, instead ringing through with an unflinching truth.

Pine and Foster turn in the performances of their careers, while Bridges is…Jeff Bridges. The dude still abides.

If that’s not enough, the original music is written and performed by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. What more could you ask for?

Marty Duda

Hell Or High Water has been nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing.