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I'm not a film critic, but I'll tell you what I think about the movies I watch. I enjoy understanding the history behind the movies we watch, as well as the collaborative effort necessary to produce movies.

Hell or High Water


hell-or-high-water-6Hell or High Water (2016)

Directed by David Mackenzie

Written by Taylor Sheridan

Starring: Ben Foster, Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges, Gil Birmingham, Dale Dickey

Two brothers (Foster, Pine) take on a desperate crime spree in an effort to preserve the family farmland. Soon, their efforts gain the attention of a tenacious lawman (Bridges).

hell-or-high-water-7This crime drama was written by Taylor Sheridan (Sicario), and directed by David Mackenzie (Starred Up). The film stars Ben Foster (Lone Survivor), Chris Pine (Unstoppable), Jeff Bridges (The Big Lebowski), Gil Birmingham (Twilight), and Dale Dickey (Super 8).

hell-or-high-water-8Taylor Sheridan did a wonderful job crafting the story for this film. The script is a dramatic and unique crime drama that plays out over the backdrop of rural Texas. The writing does a nice job creating an excellent opening sequence. The quick start really helps the movie to get right to the meat of the story. The film also has great dialogue that helps to build the world of the story into something very real and unique. The writing also does a great job not doing too much with the action sequences. Instead of long drawn out moments, the film strives for realism. This keeps this one feeling gritty and intense. The one weakness in this script is the somewhat heavy-handed attempt to push the theme of the movie. There is a clear message built into the story that gets pushed a bit too much. Despite the minor issues, this is a great script that shines on the big screen.

hell-or-high-water-5The acting in this film far exceeded my expectations. This isn’t to say that these aren’t good actors. I just wasn’t sure that they were the right people to carry a dark crime drama. Well, they were. Chris Pine has finally found a role that proves that he’s more than the Captain Kirk of the current generation. His performance in this one is solid, and he really seemed to connect with the material. He also has very good chemistry with co-star Ben Foster. Foster was a great choice for this film. His performance is so different from Pine’s, but they both found the right connection to the theme of the film. Jeff Bridges also does a great job in this one. His performance really helps to balance out the emotion in the story. Gil Birmingham and Dale Dickey also add nice performances to the mix. Overall, the cast does a wonderful job bringing this one to life.

hell-or-high-water-2Using the natural look of Eastern New Mexico, the camera work was able to add a nice sense of poverty and grit to the film. Cinematographer Giles Nuttgens (Battlefield Earth) did an excellent job keeping things simple and capturing the natural beauty of the locations. The costuming and set designs also added a level of realism to this one. The film also features a wonderful soundtrack, featuring work by Nick Cave (Lawless) and Warren Ellis (The Proposition). Overall, the production work did everything right in making this story work on the big screen.

hell-or-high-water-1This is a gritty film that deals with harsher realities and consequence. Fans of films like No Country for Old Men or Blood Simple should definitely check this one out. I would also suggest this one to fans of the stars. Anyone who likes crime films or darker drama should also make time for this one. This was an unexpected pleasure for me, and one of the better films I’ve seen this year. I give this one 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Rating: R

Running Time: 102 Minutes

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