FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: Last Friday, I saw “Hell or High Water,” which stars Chris Pine (Star Trek Into Darkness, Into the Woods), Ben Foster (Warcraft: The Beginning, 3:10 to Yuma), Jeff Bridges (Iron Man, R.I.P.D.), and Gil Birmingham (Twilight, Rango). It is directed by David Mackenzie (Starred Up, Perfect Sense) and written by Taylor Sheridan (Sicario, Wind River). Two brothers, Toby (Pine) and Tanner (Foster) Howard, execute a scheme of bank robberies for personal gain. Elsewhere, an old dog investigator and his partner follow their trail in order to put them behind bars.
“Hell or High Water” wasn’t on the top of my list for what to watch, but because it garnered such critical praise, why pass it up? The first thought that popped into my head when watching this was “No Country for Old Men.” Although they don’t share a lot of similarities, there are a few things that seem familiar. For one, you have an old dog lawman who is following up one of his last cases. Jeff Bridges portrays this role fantastically (as if he wouldn’t), and was by far my favorite character. Other aspects would be the setting and cinematography. This movie is shot in the middle of nowhere, with rustic color grading and dry storytelling. It fits the rancher tone the writer goes for. There’s interesting chips that this release has on the table, and I would say that most of them work in favor of the movie. Aside from some electrifying moments, this film carries on in scenes of small conflict, all of which tries to be deep. Two separate conflicts discussed amongst two separate groups are focused on, and it is difficult to say that they were gut-wrenching or meaningful. Throughout this flick, I was intrigued in what was happening. None of what took place was really fresh, besides the goal of Chris Pine’s character, but I did enjoy what I saw. The performances captured the characters fantastically, and the arguments shared amongst Pine and Foster were some of the best moments outside of Bridges’ investigation. It takes a while for this release to take hold of the viewer and what the writers are getting at, but once the final act approaches, things pick up for the better. I wouldn’t say that the first two acts were bad; it was necessary build up that had some great dialogue, which didn’t spoon feed the audience (one of the better attributes this release has). I just thought that the story took hold of me in the conclusion more so than it did throughout the whole run. I wasn’t as emotionally tied to the character as much as I was in the last minutes, and with the finale in mind I would say that the film as a whole has improved in my eyes. I won’t go into spoilers, but when something terrible happened to Bridges’ character, I got chills. It was abrupt and merciless, and in that grit I realized how much I actually was in tune with the characters. The reason why I stated I wasn’t beforehand was because I truly never felt tied to the figures. It took that one moment for me to realize how subtle the attachment was. Even though I wish my ties to the characters seemed present throughout the whole run, I still give props to the writer and director for bringing that grit and realization. Everything wrapped up in an unhappy way, which was realistic, and I found it to be the saving grace of this film, keeping it from becoming your typical low B-rate release. There are many things to love about this film, from its acting to its cinematography. I enjoyed the life that this movie presented, especially its realism. Sure, it didn’t have the consistent grit or pull that I would’ve wanted, but when it hit those beats, it was strong. If you are a fan of “No Country for Old Men” or films like it, I’d recommend this to you. FINAL SCORE: 89%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: