Amid the array of mindless and action loaded CGI fest that we’ve been forced to endure at the cinema this summer it’s been the smaller films that offered salvation for fans of great cinema. Such is the case with Hell or High Water.
A heist/crime film set in small Texan towns Hell or High Water follows two brothers (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) robbing banks in order to provide for one of their children. The pair of them are pursued by Texas Rangers Hamilton and Parker (Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham). What really works is that instead of just relying on huge action set pieces director David Mackenzie instead rests the film on Taylor Sheridan’s script. And given that this was a brilliantly engaging, intelligent, and exceptionally well paced story, that was a very good decision.
Alongside a good story the characters within it are also very well written and acted. Hell or High Water gives us two different couplings, and both pairs of character dynamics work brilliantly. The two brothers are very different, with Pine’s quieter, more thoughtful, brother contrasts with Foster’s more intense and unhinged performance. Meanwhile Bridges gives one oh his best performances in a long time as the old, world weary, Ranger. All four of these main characters are very well fleshed out, and in Pine’s performance in particular he makes you care about a character that is doing some more unpleasant things.
A fantastic score from Nick Cave and Warren Ellis also accompanies Hell or High Water. It fits the backwater feel of the film perfectly, and is used to underline some of the scenes in the film. Mackenzie also contrasts this with his use of silence in some key, tenser moments.
There is absolutely no question that Hell or High Water is one of the finest films of the year. With a good story, great performances, and some stunning cinematography, Hell or High Water gives us some great reassurance that the laziness of the summer’s films may well be over.