102 minutes, Crime Drama
The phrase “come hell or high water” typically means “do whatever needs to be done, no matter the circumstances”. When referring that phrase to this film, a double-meaning unfolds. There is a “hell or high water” clause that usually applies to a leasing contract which stipulates that payments to a payee must continue, no matter any difficulties the payer may encounter.
This absorbing and gritty drama is written by Taylor Sheridan, writer of last year’s excellent crime thriller SICARIO and stars Ben Foster, Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges. Tanner (Foster) and Toby (Pine) are brothers and criminals, committing armed robberies out of sheer desperation in order to make enough cash for a debt to be paid off. Hot on their trail is Marcus Hamilton (Bridges), an intuitive and experienced, though lonely Texas Ranger who is close to retirement.
HELL OR HIGH WATER (originally titled Comancheria) effectively combines its setting and several sub-plots derived from its key storyline that builds strongly, albeit gradually. Shot in New Mexico posing as Texas, some of the themes extracted from the central characters and the trajectory of the script are rather subtle in tone yet rich in substance. Further establishing the tone of the film is its soundtrack, which features several songs by Australian musician & singer-songwriter Nick Cave, complimenting the steady pacing and atmosphere. HELL OR HIGH WATER is arguably at its best when building towards and staging a tense climax, and when the acting is of high quality. Chris Pine is good, Ben Foster is great and this is close to the best we’ve seen from Jeff Bridges since 2010’s TRUE GRIT. Recommended.
4 out of 5
MA 15+ – Strong Violence
Moviedoc wishes to thank Sophie from Madman, Madman and the Cinema NOVA for the invitation to the media screening of HELL OR HIGH WATER.
Review by Moviedoc
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