Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Review: Hell Or High Water

Hell Or High Water
Cert: 15 / 102 mins / Dir. David Mackenzie / Trailer

Whereas director David Mackenzie's Starred Up came to life with a claustrophobic tension and screenwriter Taylor Sheridan's Sicario tiptoed from room to room in body-armour, their new collaboration Hell Or High Water sort of saunters across the screen with a swagger that might be a cocky laziness, but is more likely to be concealing the revolver it has tucked away under its plaid shirt…

Shortly after their mother's death, brothers Toby and Tanner Howard (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) plot to rob a chain of banks across Texas, launder the money in Native American casinos and use it to pay off their debts to that same bank, in order to save the family ranch from repossession. Things are going as well as can be expected until Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) picks up their scent, just days away from his retirement.

Although the film almost loses a point for All Of The Mumbling™, Hell Or High Water is bloody good fun, in its own bleak way. And while Pine and Foster barely pass for brothers (despite the script seeming to think the opposite), they work far better together than I'd expected. Bridges errs just on the edge of good; it's not that he's doing anything new with the grizzled-old-dog character, more that his performance fits perfectly with the aesthetic of the film. New Mexico serves as the dusty, sun-bleached stand-in for small town Texas and you can almost feel the grit in your teeth.

Not a film to shy away from violence when it's needed, the screen-deaths (which are fewer than you'd imagine, given the plot) are unceremonious, often grimly anti-climactic. And despite what several characters (from all sides, apparently) have to say about the banking industry, the audience is in no doubt that Toby and Tanner are not the heroes here. You find yourself willing them to succeed nonetheless, but only to make the best of a bad situation. This is an unassuming, if thoroughly un-quiet, film which deserves a larger audience than it'll probably get.

The luxuriant moustaches, wheel-spun dustclouds, morose Country soundtrack and sheer volume of beers cracked open make Hell Or High Water feel like the evil twin of My Name Is Earl.

Quite, quite marvellous…

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
Sicario, From Dusk Till Dawn.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
For the scale of the landscape, yes.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
It does.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Probably not, but only because of the quality of the back-catalogue.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Probably not.

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.
No boot-shot, either.
What the hell, guys?

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: This movie stars Dale Dickey, who put in a brief appearance in Iron Man 3, as did Jon 'Pre Vizsla' Favreau.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

No comments:

Post a Comment