Three and a half stars
UK Director David Mackenzie’s latest offering Hell or High Water is quite simply a western thriller, brilliantly mashed together with the hardships that many folks experienced after the global financial crisis, while simultaneously being a story of two sets of brothers.
One set are actual brothers: (Toby played by Chris Pine) is a smart, unassuming soul who keeps a cool head and plans for a future.
Whereas his brother (Tanner played by Ben Foster) is a trigger happy ex-con who really just enjoys the theatre of being a bank robber.
The other set of brothers are ‘brothers in arms,’ and these two Texas rangers are an unusual pairing.
Gil (played by Alberto Parker) is half-Indian, half-Mexican and his racist yet endearing partner, who is on the brink of retirement, is played by Jeff Bridges in one of his late great roles as Marcus.
As the movie progresses it becomes harder to pick which team to root for, as both have their appealing aspects.
It’s immediately obvious that the young bank robbing brothers are not exactly bad guys, they are simply trying to take back small amounts of money in order to save the family farm from the very banks that are obviously happy to foreclose on the mortgage and steal away their family’s future.
However, you can’t help but like the rangers who are out to catch them.
Marcus may be a handle-bar touting racist using up every possible bigoted joke against his long-suffering partner in his last glorious attempt to catch the brother-bandits, but their bond is just as obvious and just as commanding as the thieves; blurring the lines between what should be right and what should be wrong.
With no apparent heroes or villains, the audience must go along for the ride and decide for themselves if either party deserves your ‘thumbs up’.
Hell or High Water gives Chris Pine a cracking chance to play something other than the perfectly handsome hero for a change, and Bridges will ensnare the heart of audiences with his southern drawl and light-hearted prejudices, as he pursues the criminals at large.
The film is set exquisitely to Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’ evocative musical score.
However sometimes the music does mangle its way over some of the dialogue, making it even harder to understand due to the heavy use of the Southern accent.
The fact is, this film will leave you questioning your values; are you a bleeding heart socialist with a Robin Hood mentality, or do you believe we should always abide by the law no matter what?
Maybe, just maybe, there is a centre spot here that doesn’t condone violence but does abhor greedy grasping materialistic capitalism, and just wishes none of this needed to happen in the first place.
Hell or High Water isn’t the ostentatious kind of film that demands attention, rather it sneakily catches you in its grip as it takes you on a funny yet poignant ride expertly executed to leave the viewer swinging on a pendulum of morality.