• Review: Hell or High Water (2016)

    From David N. Butterworth@21:1/5 to All on Sat Mar 25 23:32:56 2017
    A film review by David N. Butterworth
    Copyright 2017 David N. Butterworth

    *** (out of ****)

    West Texas. Not quite New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment. Crappy sedans, dust-bowl diners, Shiner Bock in long-necked bottles, bum steers, and few
    jobs to speak of, a hell of a hole to call home. But home it is to
    brothers Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster) Howard. Well, Tanner's
    just back from a ten-year stretch in the county lock-up, so he's not seen
    much of the place lately. And Toby's separated from his wife and two young boys, although he swears he'll do right by them, come "Hell or High Water."
    As David Mackenzie's modern-day Western kicks into gear, the brothers are already knee-deep in a lawless effort to reclaim the family farm from the
    Texas Midlands Bank, eager to foreclose. Enter Texas Ranger Marcus
    Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and his long-suffering partner Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham), a mismatched pairing at the best of times--Marcus likes to
    taunt Alberto on his Mexican-Comanche "half breed" ancestry--but one that's promised to bring the boys to justice. Happy endings, it seems, are not something West Texas is known for. Pretty Pine presents well as usual, and I've always liked Foster, who seems drawn to these kinds of projects, or at least to the kind in which he gets to play deep-end crazy. Bridges himself secured a seventh Academy Award nomination for his fine supporting role
    here, even though the statuette ultimately went to "Moonlight"'s Mahershala Ali. "Hell or High Water" might not offer the most original plotting of
    the year, but "Sicario" scribe Taylor Sheridan's peckerwood dialogue and
    sharp characterizations more than atone. Coupling that with strong performances and a stellar score--from bad seed Nick Cave with collaborator Warren Ellis--makes the whole trip out West worthwhile.

    David N. Butterworth

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