Last time, I talked about the Taylor Sheridan film Wind River and I mentioned Hell Or High Water in that review. Sheridan wrote Hell Or High Water and it was released in 2016. It is a neo-western and action film, starring Chris Pine and Ben Foster. They play Texas brothers who rob banks. Jeff Bridges plays the Texas Ranger who is after them.
The brothers are robbing branch banks in various small, dying, Texas towns. That is one of the themes of the movie – generational poverty. This is something I can relate to, living in the Appalachian mountains with its many dead, once thriving, coal towns.
They are trying to steal money, then launder it through Las Vegas as gambling winnings, to pay off the bank loan on their recently deceased mother’s home and land. Pine is broke from a divorce and is trying to pay off the land so that his kid will always have a place to live. Foster is his brother, a convicted felon, who wants to help his brother and family at least once in life.
Time is running out on the foreclosure. The bank wants this land bad, since oil was recently discovered on the land and an oil company wants to set up a well, paying the owners of the land a percentage. Naturally, the bank wants to be the owners of this land. The brothers are dead set to see that Pine’s child inherits it.
Jeff Bridges is an old Ranger a few weeks from retirement who has gotten on their trail. He and his native partner track the brothers all over the area, trying to catch them. Bridges teases his Indian partner relentlessly and their back and forth dialogue is great. The partner reminds us it was once their land, but now even the new owners are being replaced and put into poverty.
The story climaxes around a robbery that goes wrong thanks to the second amendment, featuring a posse and a glorious firefight. I won’t spoil it by talking about it anymore.
The ending is bittersweet. It’s a great movie from a guy who has made some absolutely top-class, killer flicks about the modern condition from the point of view of both the cops and the criminals.
It is a minor masterpiece and I give my highest recommendation.
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“What don’t ya want?”
This is a great movie. I watched it once on my phone and went back and watched it again on my TV so I could see it better. In addition to being a great story well-acted, it’s beautifully shot (mostly in eastern NM standing in for Texas).
Minor spergy correction: they launder their money in the Oklahoma Indian casinos, not in Vegas.
I normally don’t like movies with bad guy protagonists but the one brother is working from noble enough motives that it works, especially with the other viciously evil brother as a foil. Lots of unresolved conflict at the end, too, but not in a stupid “obvious setup for a sequel” kind of way. The story just sort of resolves by refusing to resolve, leaving it like a pebble in your shoe. Very well-done.
everything west of the Mississippi is the same to me