Hell or High Water (2016)


Crime | Drama | Western


David Mackenzie




Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Gil Birmingham, Marin Ireland, Katy Mixon, Dale Dickey, Kevin Rankin Melanie Papalia, John Paul Howard, Christopher W. Garcia, Margaret Bowman


In order to save their family's ranch, unemployed oil and gas worker Toby Howard (Chris Pine) and his ex-con brother (Ben Foster) commit several armed robberies, and Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) is tasked to track them down. 


Western is not my genre, but, because of their interesting approaches, recent films such as "The Rover" and "Slow West" are making me appreciate it a little more. "Hell or High Water" is another of those movies as it is a very engaging and complex crime drama film with flawless performances.

The film, however, does have a few problems, the biggest being the story. After the watch, if you examine it, you'll realize how simplistic and basic it is. It's basically the typical and therefore predictable heist story.

But, and that's what makes this film different and better than movies of the same kind, the story focuses on four characters - two brothers robbing banks and the two cops tasked to track them down - and, as predictable as their moves are, they make the film very interesting. And the credits go to the writer. Those characters have such a depth, they really feel like real people. Also they are "fed" with witty dialogue, which is always nice.

David Mackenzie, who also directed the wonderful "Starred Up", did a wonderful job. Maintaining a slow pace to this kind of film was definitely a risky move, but it did pay off as he was able to make the interactions between the character highlight engaging. Something else I'd like to point out is Mackenzie's ability to make ourselves feel uncomfortable with the violence in this film.

"Hell or High Water" isn't just a movie, but it's a beautiful - probably I should say ugly - portrayal of America as it goes a little deep into the current economic state with banks and the country's use and misuse of weapons.

The film also features stunning cinematography that will stick with you even once the film is over, and, as mentioned above, great performances. Jeff Bridges is excellent as a xenophobic ranger, and he does have a great chemistry with Gil Birmingham who also does a great job as Bridges' partner. On the other side of the fence there are Chris Pine and Ben Foster, both giving fantastic performances - especially Pine - in the role of the two brothers, and they both deliver their characters' desperation.


  1. I don't like Westerns either but I was pleasantly surprised with this film. Foster and Pine were amazing in it.

    1. I hope we'll see other westerns this good in the future as well.

  2. I love Westerns and this is a modern style of the western with some Bonnie and Clyde thrown in except they are 2 brothers. I haven't seen it yet but want to

  3. I loved this one. My favorite of 2016 at this point. I like the simplicity of the heist narrative when it's inside such a rich character study and a study of America right now (love that you brought that up!).

    1. I know, I wasn't expecting to enjoy it this much because of the simplicity of it, but the characters just blew me away.

  4. I haven't heard much about this film, but it sounds like something I'd really enjoy. Great review!

    1. Thanks! I've watched it because a guy suggested me it, and he usually suggests me good film, and once again he was right. I hope you'll enjoy this one as much as I did.