Hell or High Water ★★★
Updated: Jul 26, 2019
2 sets of buddies
“Hell or High Water” is an engaging remake of the Western for the early 21st century. On the surface it’s a classic buddy film with two sets of buddies, bank-robbing brothers, hotheaded vs. cool-headed, and two Texas Rangers, one old and crusty, the other half-Comanche, half-Mexican. Stereotypes abound: abusive father, mother who prefers one son, acerbic divorcee, savvy waitress (nicely played by Katy Mixon), evil banker, and serial robberies.
Scottish director David Mackenzie and writer Taylor Sheridan (“Sicario”) effectively refashion these stereotypes to fit today’s culture. Though one Ranger spews non-PC language, he remains devoted to his Mexican-Native American sidekick. Robberies aside, bankers are portrayed as evildoers that peddle reverse mortgages with onerous terms. Everything about the West Texas small town setting echoes the bypassed rural America that elected Donald Trump. The townspeople don’t identify particularly with the gunmen, nor are they particularly eager to help out a government (represented by the Rangers) they consider irrelevant to their lives.
Director: David MacKenzie
Starring: Ben Foster, Chris Pine, Gil Birmingham, Jeff Bridges, Katy Mixon.
Oscars: Nominated: Best Picture (Carla Hacken, Julie Yorn); Best Supporting Actor (Jeff Bridges); Best Original Screenplay (Taylor Sheridan); Best Achievement in Film Editing (Jake Roberts)).
Runtime: 102 minutes
Originally published in theAmerican/inItalia, here.