The buzz for this film shook my eardrums for weeks like I stepped on a bees hive, but rather than getting stung hundreds of times, it was like the queen spared me by offering me honey instead. That sweet honey was served up as a film both film fanatics and bored friends on a Friday night could cherish and melt over. That movie is none other than neo-western Hell or High Water and boy did it deliver folks.
Starring Chris Pine and Ben Foster as two brothers living in western Texas with a mumbling Jeff Bridges for good measure, the brothers rob banks, and stir up trouble in the process. A classic cat and mouse search begins between Bridges character, as well as his hilarious partner played by Gil Birmingham, in an attempt to bring these bank robbing brothers to justice. What you don’t realize going into the film is the level of quick hitting humor that flows through the baron settings and morally grey antiheroes. The chemistry for both pairs of characters resonates with you immediately after they are introduced and couldn’t be more believable.
Through the short run-time of only about 85 minutes, the pacing is near flawless thanks to the director and editor knowing exactly when they should hold and speed up moments and scenes that go on through the story. It’s not an overly complex narrative and yet it holds so much on its shoulders, baring the burden of having some pretty powerful, and often direct messages you can’t help but smirk at. Beyond the social commentary thrown in for good measure, the chase is constantly compelling. Ben Foster may have his best role to date and could garner award chatter in the coming months for his performance as a troubled brother to Chris Pine’s Toby, a man not built for the life his brother chose, but understands desperate times call for desperate measures while blood will always run thicker than water.
It’s the fruitful relationship between Pine and Foster that sell this story for me along with the collection of colorful characters sprinkled on top to add that extra flavor. It’s not a sobbing western nor is it a hardcore satire and it falls on the lines of both while making you forget it could easily be both. Hell or High Water is simplicity done crisply and cleanly without wasting one frame or picture in the film to help the story go to where it needs to. I can’t say there isn’t a film other than Sing Street or Deadpool I’ve loved more this year (so far) and it won’t be hard to see why. Hell or High Water presents the amalgamation of indie storytelling with big budget talent and scope that would make even the Coen Brothers smile.