Hell or High Water stars, Chris Pine (Star Trek, The Finest Hours), Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma, Warcraft), Jeff Bridges (The Big Lebowski, True Grit), Gil Birmingham (Twilight, Rango), and is directed by David Mackenzie (Starred Up, Perfect Sense).

Two brothers Toby (Pine) and Tanner (Foster), create a scheme of several bank robberies when one of them has financial problems he can’t solve.

It’s hard to explain much more than that about this films plot because it’s very simple but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the best films of the year. I heard a lot of buzz surrounding Hell or High Water so I purposely stayed away from any trailers and all marketing in general and although this isn’t a film you need to know nothing about, there’s just something special about going into a film this good, with no assumption or anticipation. And with that, this film blew me away with how well it was acted, directed, written and anything else you could want from a film.

This is an acting tour de force. From the main cast, to every little side character you meet along the way, everyone is excellent. Chris Pine and Ben Foster give probably both of their best performances ever and either of them should be getting an Oscar nomination at least. Cinephiles know, Ben Foster is one of the most underappreciated actors, every time he shows up he steals the film but Pine keeps up and even surpasses Foster in some scenes. Together they had great chemistry on screen and they were a joy to watch. Jeff Bridges plays the close to retiring old Sherif and although it’s a cliche, it’s Bridges so you know he kills it.

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Hell or High Water follows mainly two sets of pairs. You have Pine and Foster the two bank robbing brothers and Bridges and his partner played by Gil Birmingham are the two cops tracking them down. The film jumps back and forth between the two teams and no matter what two you’re watching, it’s riveting. Like I said, Pine and Foster have great chemistry but also the pairing of Bridges and Birmingham, is surprisingly hilarious. With all four of the characters there are some really funny moments that keeps the film fun to watch but also some small, quiet scenes that are very effective in keeping you invested.

Along with characters and superb acting, there’s a strong story that gets more complex as the film goes forward and you find yourself torn between who to root for. Pine and Foster are robbing banks and not always in the nicest ways but you get an understanding as to why they are criminals and you start to cheer for the bad guys. But on the other side, I found myself enjoying the back and forth between Bridges and Birmingham, wanting them to succeed too. It’s a really fun dilemma you have with yourself watching the film, adding more layers to the experience.  

Honestly, I wasn’t familiar with director David Mackenzie but now I feel like I’ve been missing out on a talented filmmaker. This film looks beautiful, capturing Texas and you can feel the Coen Brothers influence, which is never a bad thing. You get a real sense of a ‘lived in’ world, when these characters go around to different hotels and dinners, that puts you in the scene with the actors. Mackenzie also shot action really well, it’s not to over the top but still isn’t afraid to get tense and exciting. All the bank robbing scene are tension filled and will have you on the edge of your seat, like any good heist film.

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What surprised me the most, was how Hell or High Water actually had something to say, in very obvious ways but also in a more subtle approach, that you could easily miss. There are several themes running through this film that come out in the actions and conversations of everyone you meet.

I am just fresh from seeing Hell or High Water but right now I can’t think of anything bad to say about it. Yes it’s not the most original setup and it plays out in ways you’ve seen before but it does everything perfectly. I was always engage, never bored and had one of the most enjoyable experiences with a film this year.

10/10

Have you seen Hell or High Water and what did you think about it?

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