The golden age of westerns seemed to have slipped away for good and most of the films made recently in the old western style just did not carry enough content to grip today's audience. There has been the odd exception to that and Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven is a great example of that, but the success of this movie was due to the depth of script, cast and the camera work. Although not in the old western style, there is no doubt that Hell or High Water delivers everything that the modern moviegoer demands and more.
The Cinematography is exceptional, immediately raising the temperature and immersing the viewer into the extremes of living in the wild west. The cast is limited and focuses completely on the main characters throughout, but every member of the lead cast give award-winning performances. In fact, the film was nominated for multiple awards including best picture, best actor, best support actor and best screenplay in both Golden Globes and Academy Awards.
This is not your standard western, yes it does include bank robbing brothers and a larger than life intimidating ranger who is tracking them down. But the clever slant to this is the motive for the brothers to be taking this drastic action – openly challenging the audience to question what is right and wrong. Is it ok for the financial sector in today's world to leave people with nothing after their families had worked so hard for it? This is a stark moral question of the Twenty-First Century that resonates strongly in a post-financial crisis world. Emotionally this movie is quite a roller coaster, not only is it raising valid moral questions but is a very deep portrayal of the connections of family – lost and found. The two rangers who are tracking the brothers face the same struggle with this question too and this keeps you switching between being on the side of the law or on the side of the brothers.
Personally, I did not expect too much from this film but gave it a go due to the lead actors. The brothers are played by Christopher Pine and Ben Foster and I was intrigued to see Captain Kirk play a Bad Guy. Then there is Jeff Bridges who I have always been a big fan of, he plays Marcus Hamilton the aging Ranger who is knocking on retirement and speaks with such a Texan drawl that you have to focus hard on what he is saying. These characters raise complexities for the actors but both Pine and Bridges deliver Magnetic Performances. It has to be said that if this Movie was not going into the Academy Awards on the same year that La La Land took every single Oscar (well it seemed that way) – it would have had a great chance of coming away with at least three Oscars, including Best Picture. This is a true Classic of a Movie that seems to have passed so many people by – So if you are looking for an Intense Drama that Delivers on all Levels, you really should check this movie out for yourself on Amazon Prime.
Update: Hell Or High Water is now available on Netflix US. You can also rent it on Amazon but it is not included with the Prime subscription.