Phil’s Thursday night movie was loaned to him by a work colleague who thought he might like it. Hell and High Water (2016). Billed as a neo-western heist movie (doncha just love sub-categories) and directed by David MacKenzie it stars Chris Pine, Benn Foster, Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham.
It’s not such an old movie so I’ll try and avoid too many spoilers. The plot regards 2 brothers, Toby and Tanner Howard. Their mother recently died and the bank is going to foreclose on the ranch she owned in a weeks time. Toby (Pine) is divorced, and Tanner (Foster) is an ex-con with a wild streak, and the pair make plans to do small bank robberies across the week, in order to pay off the debt, and keep the Ranch in the family, and are quite successful in spite of Tanner being a bit of a loose cannon, much to Toby’s annoyance.
Two Texas rangers Marcus Hamilton (Bridges) and Alberto Parker (Birmingham) are on the case to catch them. Marcus is very near retirement age and after investigating the robberies already committed, soon works out where and when the brothers will be next, and he and Parker go off to await the next robbery.
That’s it for spoilers. The movie was written by Taylor Sheridan an actor/writer/director and Hell and High Water is the second of his trilogy of “the modern-day American Frontier” with Sicario being his first, and Wind River being the last. He also wrote the follow up to Sicario but not as part of this trilogy. Hell and High Water was nominated for lots of awards at the OScars, Globes, BAFTA etc and had good reviews from critics.
Well deserved I think. The beauty of this movie is in how the relationships between the two brothers, and between the two rangers are portrayed. We can’t fault the acting here, Bridges at his best, a grumpy sardonic old guy who continuously teases his partner with non- PC Indian insults but is smart as a whip. Gil Birmingham gives as good as he gets. Pine and Foster have got brothers just right, sometimes at odds, and exasperated with each other, but with blood thicker than water. A joy to watch these four guys take a brilliant script and bring it to life. It’s not a comedy but we did laugh a lot during it.
The cinematography by Giles Nuttgens was stunning, using East New Mexico as a stand in for Texas, and having the wide open plains and forgotten backwater towns and people as the subtle backdrop to this story. Little touches like in a Gas station scene there’s a cowboy on a horse, young idiots playing crap music in a limegreen musclecar, and the brothers in a crappy saloon car. Modern-day American Frontier indeed.
Critics were impressed :- Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun Times sums it up very well. “In ways large and small, Hell or High Water is a movie so beautiful and harsh and elegiac and knowing, the moment it was over was the moment I wanted to see it again”.
Fraggle Rating : Bloody Brilliant.