Movie Review – ‘Hell or High Water’

“Wielding a razor-sharp script, “Hell or High Water” backs up to their getaway car with deeply satisfied theater audiences in close chase. And combined with remarkable cinematography brandishing vast lands and small town life, it has confidently ordered all other 2016 films to get down on the floor and not move. At least for now.”

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Few films can deliver everything to moviegoers seeking the most bang for their box office buck. Drama and comedy, perhaps. Maybe even some sentimental chick flick mixed in with a thrilling suspense story. Now toss in a modern Western cowboy feature with risky bank robberies in the Lone Star State. For a motion picture to invoke each of these film genres in the same movie, airtight scripts must come alive through magnificent screen performances. “Hell or High Water” powerfully achieves both and is by far the best film I’ve seen this year!

The shear strength of “Hell or High Water” resides in one of the strongest ensemble casts of 2016 and an authentic, captivating story to tell. Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges stars as a long in the tooth Texas Ranger named Marcus Hamilton, who desires to bring swift justice to the pair of bank bandits before his pending retirement.

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Bridges may be the film’s most accomplished and notable Hollywood face, but his performance is matched along every stretch of west Texas highway by a very formidable Ben Foster (“Lone Survivor”). Riding shotgun to Foster’s volatile Tanner Howard character is none other than “Star Trek Beyond” captain Chris Pine, portraying Tanner’s younger brother Toby. Together this trio play a game of cat and mouse, with viewers hoping no losers emerge in the end. Credit the veteran Bridges for bringing out the career film bests for both Foster and Pine.

This film may be promoted as two brothers robbing banks, however, it’s more about two give-and-take relationships. These dueling bonds consist of one representing the law with Bridges’ and his Texas Ranger sidekick, the other a brotherhood of outlaws raised in an abusive household. One rapport the culmination of years serving together and the other a result of years spent apart.

Wielding a razor-sharp script from Taylor Sheridan (who wrote last year’s “Sicario” screenplay), “Hell or High Water” backs up to their getaway car with deeply satisfied theater audiences in close chase. And combined with remarkable cinematography brandishing vast lands and small town life, “Hell or High Water” has confidently ordered all other 2016 films to get down on the floor and not move. At least for now.

In 2012, “Hell or High Water” earned The Black List award for the most liked motion picture “screenplay not yet produced” from voters consisting of studio and production company executives. Historically, over 25% of the screenplays making The Black List have later earned an Oscar nomination, including; “Argo”, “American Hustle”, “The King’s Speech”, “Slumdog Millionaire”, “Spotlight” and “The Revenant”. Not bad company.

Is “Hell or High Water” a shoo-in for an Academy Award nomination come January? You can bank on it.

Grade: A+

“Hell or High Water” is rated R for some strong violence, language throughout and brief sexuality.  Its running time is 1 hour and 42 minutes.

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