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Hell or High Water

Hell or High Water (2016)

A fine movie about crime and law in Texas, filmed in New Mexico and perfectly captured on film by a director from Scotland, David MacKenzie! Written by talented actor/writer/director/producer Taylor Sheridan, the movie tells the story of two differing pairs of men: one pair are bank-robbing brothers, the other pair are Texas Rangers on the brothers' trail. The movie works most excellently paralleling the two sets of men and their likenesses and differences. The movie takes its time letting us really get to know these men and how they work together and sometimes clash in their styles. That's the real joy of the movie, the compare and contrast of the relationships. Bringing the roles to life are Chris Pine and Ben Foster as brothers Toby and Tanner Howard respectively, and Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham as lawmen Marcus Hamilton and Alberto Parker, also respectively. Toby is the more of a step-back and think type of man, while his brother Tanner, recently released from prison, is the loose cannon. Marcus is more gung-ho, despite his near-retirement age, and Alberto is the calmer thinker of the two.

When the Howard brothers mother dies, their childhood ranch home is jeopardized, with the bank threatening to foreclose, especially since oil has been found on their land. Time is of the essence, so the brothers go on a bank-robbing spree in small, quiet towns within a certain radius of their home. To really spotlight how Tanner can put the brothers in a perilous predicament, there is a scene where the two brothers are enjoying a meal at a small town diner, when Tanner excuses himself. While Toby is still relaxing at the diner, Tanner goes across the street and executes an unplanned robbery at the local bank across the street. This of course distresses Toby mightily. On the other hand, Good old boy Ranger Marcus has fun picking on Alberto's Native American blood. You'd think this would drive them apart but you can tell that Alberto doesn't take true offense because he can give as good as he gets and the Rangers care about each other. As do the outlaw brothers. And they are headed for a meetup.

The action is spread throughout the movie with the various bank robberies, a fight that occurs when a couple of young punks stupidly taunt one of the brothers at a convenience store, and car chases as the brothers speed out of town. The lawmen's scenes are more laid-back but never dull as their priorities in life come out during their conversations. Their styles of working a case somewhat differently come out during their road trips and their stops along the way. The supporting characters are all great, some providing wry humor, especially the crabby old waitress the lawmen meet up with. The cinematography is beautiful all along the way, whether it be in the scrub brush riddled countryside of Texas (actually New Mexico), or the small, sleepy towns along the way, with the beautiful paintbrush of the photography really bringing the color of these locations to vivid life. The soundtrack, with the hard-edged country songs playing, are perfect for whatever is happening onscreen, whether the lyrics go along with the scene or not...the music is the key and it's perfect. There's nary a wasted moment in the movie. Every scene adds to the story from start to finish. A great movie.