HELL OR HIGH WATER – A Review by Gadi Elkon

Hell or High Water is a well paced modern western that straddles the perfect line of humor and reality.  Writer Taylor Sheridan's witty and gritty script allows for incredible acting from Chris Pine, Ben Foster and legendary Jeff Bridges.  Click through for my full review of the West Texas bank robbery free-for-all.

West Texas in the film world is actually border towns across the open plains of New Mexico.  Bravo first to Brit Director David Mackenzie and his Cinematographer Giles Nuttgens for capturing the expansive beauty of "Texas" through the eyes of Clovis, New Mexico.  The camera work is not only picturesque with it's wide shot choices, but it's fast paced robbery sequences that are both subtle and slick.  Editor Jake Roberts must have enjoyed crafting such a pretty "Texas" film.  Overall the look of Hell or High Water is one of the year's most lush landscapes seen.  You can completely fall in love with the small town feel of the film as well as the modern Texas flavor with the fun characters.  Wild West Films had vast landscapes, guns, lovely ladies and bad ass cow folk.  All of these are checked off by Mackenzie and his team.  Then you mix in Taylor Sheridan's southern charm, witty sense of humor, and his biting realistic look at life to create a real gem of a movie. 

"Rough, rugged, beautiful place". 

The tremendous acting chops of Jeff Bridges fits nicely into retiring Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton.  His constant verbal battle w/ his partner played sarcastically well by Gil Birmingham.  Their back and forth banter is one of the amazing treats of Taylor Sheridan's script.  Sarcastic and slightly scandalous is how you should feel about the salty but sweet Texas language.  But the really solid duo is Ben Foster and Chris Pine as the Howard brothers.  Pine's beaten down defeated Texas cowboy is intensely connected with his wild ass brother.  Foster's dynamic portrayal is both the heart and the hell of the film.  His actions and story take this modern western into the dark chapters it needs to be such a quality film.  Through all the fun of the film there is some serious things that are being talked about and seen.  Wealth and the impact of money on the "old" ways of our country is on full effect.  Whether it's Bonnie & Clyde or these Howard brothers the outlaw Texans have always tried to take back our money from the banks.  A proud hat's off to the acting that highlights the reality of how corrupt money has always been in the wild west. 

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis musical forays into the film scoring world are all dense works that highlight the rugged and richness of nature.  Hell and High Water perfectly fits the taste and touch of the Cave/Ellis film score.  The film does a wonderful job of allowing for musical interludes to pass us through the slower movement moments.  The score does allow for some tension filled moments to be stretched with just the right amount of a song or tune.  The film's few moments of violence are completely engulfed in the Cave/Ellis impact and enhance the overall appeal of the film. 

Banks, robberies, family, justice and all the pain in between are showcased beautifully in Hell or High Water.  Taylor Sheridan's writing needs to be on your radar as him and folks like Jeff Nichols are highlighting the American South with respect and intrigue.  Don't miss this summer treat that deserves some award recognition for music, cinematographer, writing, and yes acting.


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