Thursday, April 25, 2019

Short Attention Span Review - Hell or High Water (2016)

Short Attention Span Review - Hell or High Water (2016)

Hell or High Water is a little slow, rather grim, genuinely interested in those areas where morality and integrity stand at odds with the foundations of society, and built on the bonds of family and loyalty.  The violence is realistic, the choices are dire, and the cost of living is high.  It's a movie that boasts many robberies and a couple of shootouts, but it offers much more in the way of drama than excitement because we care so deeply about the players.  This is due to an excellent script, some rich characters, and a wonderful cast that really grasps what the picture is all about and brings it to life with gut-wrenching authenticity.  We sense doom for some of these players from the moment the picture opens, and while we are propelled forward by the choices required of them, we never fully accept their fates, and are reluctant to see just how this uncompromising landscape will break them.  Jeff Bridges does an astounding job as a fair and likable lawman who is as human as he is larger than life--kinda sounds like a Jeff Bridges sort of role, doesn't it?  Gil Birmingham should not be overlooked as perhaps the most dignified person embroiled in this unforgiving saga.  Chris Pine and Ben Foster make the whole thing click on another level altogether as two very different siblings, with their work here draped in authenticity and crackling with purpose.  Pine is a bit reserved as the more introverted of the two, allowing Foster to light the screen up in one of his best performances to date.  Foster plays the most flawed and also the most generous of all these characters, and in a story like this, those who are willing to give of themselves are issued a bloody receipt for their efforts.  That's okay, though, because he plays the kind of man who is more than willing to man up and pay his dues, especially if his family is at stake.  Hell or High Water is another top-notch film from the mind of Taylor Sheridan, who also gave us 2017's unofficial best picture, Wind River.  Director David Mackenzie does a stellar job of bringing this deft combination of a modern western and an essay in noir to fruition, and I rate Hell or High Water as an absolute must-watch for those who like tough movies about hard choices.

Final Grade: A

Jeff Bridges remains an American treasure, but the work that Pine and Foster do here 

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