It can say that Hell or High Water is the best film I’ve seen this year so far. It comes complete with incredible performances, sleek cinematography and social commentary that really captures the essence and policies of modern day America. This film reminded me of The Wire, No Country For Old Men and Try Grit. It’s a western, that alludes to corporate structures being the villain.
Chris Pine is an incredibly handsome dude, but he becomes a much better actor when they de-beautify him. Whenever he plays a scrappy and desperate person it always leads to a memorable performance. Look at films such as Smoking Aces and Z for Zachariah. He’s joined by Ben Foster who cannot deliver a poor performance and Jeff Bridges as a Texas Ranger tasked to hunt down both actors. Their crime? Robbing banks in West Texas, in order to settle a debt and save their ranch. The film’s plot is pretty straightforward, but the story is not, and by the time it ended I was speechless.
This is a very sad film. It’s truly terrifying how much power the banks have over us, like overdraft fees, they make money off of your money while it’s in the account, and if you’ve been a college student, sometimes it runs out, then they charge you money for not having money. It’s asinine. What about depositing your check only for the bank to say you can’t use it till tomorrow. What? It’s my money. The banks have too much control people, but like women, can’t love with em and can’t live without em.
And that’s where the parallels from The Wire come through. All you need is for one entity to be corrupt, and then the corruption flows, and then the common man and woman are used as the bugs squashed by their massive foot. The cinematography really kicks in and furthers that point. It’s a story of isolation, solitary cars travel down the roads in wide shots, when closeups are shown nothing but huge banners stare them down, banners asking them if they’re in debt, both Ben Foster and Chris Pine are shot multiple times often staring at nothingness. The music also multiplies the effect of solitude. Songs are only played when there’s something glamorous happening. The robberies themselves are very well staged without the interruption of music. The middle class is also showcased, it broke my heart when I saw an old lady waitress serving Jeff Bridges. This is quite the topical film, I mean with the election and what not, and the lack of transparency the U.S. government has.
It’s not so much about the death of the American dream, but the new American dream. The corporate America dream. Questions are raised in the film as to why things are the way they are. Why local shop owners have to raise their prices in order to survive, but then that drives away customers. Again, pretty sad.
What makes this film enjoyable however is all the characters. They’re all confident, smart and patient. Most of their dialogues are based in personal history and banter, which makes them feel real. Guess what people, humans love to reminisce, and all the characters do that here, and it smartly builds character while delivering crucial backstory.
The retiring cop plotline is used efficiently, Jeff Bridges’ stubbornness to give up his ways is a delight, and so is his wisdom. They’re all balanced characters, like a Michael Mann film. The robbers even say a line almost every character in a Mann film says. ‘We’re taking the bank’s money, not your money.’ The final scene is one of the best scenes of the year. The acting, the edit and the dialogue is pure No Country For Old Men, as to how it captures the pain and bravado of the characters.
One last thing, the little things. Jeff Bridges as a retiring cop feels like a retiring cop. One thing I appreciated was him running out of breath and sweating all over while climbing up a cliff.
I can’t praise this film enough, very much like last year’s Sicario. It chooses to tell a big story with a pretty small and simplistic plot. You owe it to yourself to watch this film.