"Hell or High Water" Spoiler Review
I didn't really have any expectations heading into Hell or High Water. The trailers I watched before heading into the theatre looked very good, but I was pretty hesitant to go all in and expect a great movie. The plot seemed like it could be your typical bank robber movie, and I've been pretty disappointed by almost every movie I've seen lately. So I was pretty surprised when I came walking out of the theatre thinking that this is the best movie of the summer.
Going into this movie, it's easy to think that the plot is going to be very weak in Hell or High Water. The trailers were good, but the story looked like your typical bank robber story with a country twist. It just didn't look special in any way. And really, when you see the movie, you still may think that the overall story was fairly simplistic, because it is. The story is your typical bank robber movie, but it does a few things different that makes it much better than your typical bank robber movie. For example, it doesn't glorify the heists they pull off. They're messy, quick, and overall they're pretty realistic to how a bank robbery would go down in West Texas. Then later in the movie, when Texas Ranger Hamilton is setting up a long ass shot to kill Tanner during the stand off in the desert, the moment he shoots him isn't glorified. There isn't a slow motion shot of his head exploding and there isn't an action movie like sequence to it. He lines up the shot and kills him. That's all we needed out of the scene, and that's all we get. The best part of the movie to me is the conversation Hamilton and Toby have at the end. You can just feel the tension, and the lack of an actual conclusion to their stand off is quite a bit more satisfying than a shoot out or any of the other ways they could have taken the ending. So yes, at a glance this movie may appear to be pretty similar to your typical bank robber movie, but it's so much better than your typical bank robber movie.
The script for Hell or High Water is another part of this movie that separates itself from most bank robber movies, and it also separates itself from the rest of the movies I've seen this summer. Almost every bit of dialogue in this movie has a point. There is no fluff or scenes where the dialogue seems clunky or useless. By far, the best part of the whole script is the verbal exchanges between the two Texas Rangers that are on the case. Hamilton's borderline racist jokes (that are meant more to tease, not make fun of) provide the audience with some much needed humor in a pretty serious movie. His humor is just one of the many things that makes this movie pretty damn good. The conversations between the two brothers are pretty intriguing as well. So yeah, the script is pretty solid.
Hell or High Water is not a big movie in terms of the cast. There's the two brothers, the two Rangers, Toby's family, and then several characters who are just extras/background characters. So as you might assume, that puts a lot of pressure on Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges, and Gil Birmingham to carry pretty much every scene of the movie, and they do a damn good job carrying it. To be honest, I was worried about the two brothers being dull and having no chemistry, but their portrayal of two Texas born brothers is excellent. Then we have Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton, who probably is the most intriguing character of the entire movie. He is witty, smart, and funny as hell. So yeah, the smaller cast does not hurt the movie at all.
This movie is set in West Texas, and they do a fine job of capturing what it is really like out there. I live in Texas, and I've been to out west a few times. And what I saw while I was out there mimicked what I saw in the movie. It seems like I'm a little more excited about that than I should be, but you'd be surprised at how often movies mis-represent Texas.
This is the main issue with the movie. While this movie may be great, it's not for everyone. It's certainly not a movie I'd take my kids to. F-bombs are spread throughout and there a brief scene of one of the brothers having sex with a prostitute, plus there's a decent amount of violence in the second half of the movie. Apart from it not being a movie meant for kids, it's only going to appeal to a certain percentage of adults out there. If you like bank robber movies in general, see this movie. If you like the idea of a modern western but with a bank robber twist, see this movie. If you just like movies with great dialogue, see this movie. But if you're expecting an action movie, or if you're not a fan of modern westerns.... You will not like this movie. The majority of the people in the theatre with me were 40+ if that gives you any idea of who this appeals to, but I'm half their age and as I've said I think this is the best movie of the summer.
You may be surprised at the fact that I don't really have any big issues with this movie, but that's just how I feel about it. For a smaller budget movie that I wasn't expecting much from, it blew my expectations out of the water. The writing, acting, and the story were all solid, and while I could be nitpicky and probably find some issues, I just don't feel like it's necessary. So if you're a fan of bank robber movies or just movie with great dialogue, you should definitely go see Hell or High Water.