Hell or High Water

You may not know Margaret Bowman, but wait until you see her unforgettable role as a sassy waitress.

hell-or-high-waterDirector David MacKinzie’s Hell or High Water is the best picture to be released to this point in 2016. Set in present day West Texas, it is a powerful film filled with an emotional impact that will leave you pinned to your seat from the opening scenes.

Chris Pine and Ben Foster play two brothers who begin robbing branches of a bank that is attempting to foreclose on the family ranch. This duo give special performances as siblings with personalities as different as Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham. Pine robs because he feels he has no choice, while Foster finds unmitigated joy in kicking ass and taking money.

In his best role in years, Jeff Bridges plays Marcus, a Texas Ranger on the edge of retirement. He leads the robbery investigation, and his relationship with his Hispanic/Native American partner provides a level of satirical humor seldom displayed in a violent, R rated film. Gil Birmingham stands out as a Texas Ranger who politely absorbs Bridges’ mocking humor while throwing it back in his face. These two are an unforgettable duo.

Woefully behind on child support, Pine is a decent soul who just wants to help his two sons overcome their father’s weaknesses. On the other hand, Foster is riveting as an ex-con who has no affection for anyone in the world other than his brother. Both caustic and violent, he will readily assault a female robbery victim if she has the gall to throw insults his way. Unlike Pine, he doesn’t regret for a moment his mother’s death, and you learn quickly that no one will regret his.

Though Mr. Bridges has been in a series of lamentable films, he recovers the spunk and talent he displayed in True Grit (2010), his memorable role as The Dude in the unforgettable The Big Lebowski (1998), his Oscar winning performance in Crazy Heart (2009) and his astonishing performance as an alien trying to escape Earth in a film you should all see, Starman (1984). Let me just say that he will again challenge for Oscar recognition with his performance in this movie.

While Chris Pine is best remembered as Captain Kirk in the recent Star Trek films, he was hysterical playing Cinderella’s self-centered, egotistical Prince in Into the Woods (2014). Though it is likely that Mr. Foster will be largely unrecognizable to most of you, he was the only actor who made both this year’s Warcraft and The Finest Hours watchable. But if you really want to take in a film where he displays his acting chops, then hunt down 3:10 to Yuma (2007).

Hell or High Water is a completely unique film that explores multiple subject matters seldom seen on the screen. While shining a bright light on a heartless banking industry that played a central role in the 2008 recession, you will also get to watch the interaction between bank robbers and police that includes civilians who may have valuable information.

There is a devastating level of satire that permeates this film, and you find yourself repeatedly laughing while quickly wondering who is going to live and who is going to die.