The Howard brothers are in a tough position. They need to raise more than $40k to pay back the debt on their family farm before the bank forecloses. Toby (Chris Pine) is trying to save the farm for his kids and ex-wife, while Tanner (Ben Foster) is just happy to be out of jail. Out of both time and options, Toby and Tanner decide to raise the necessary capital by robbing local banks. Without taking large sums of cash, the string of heist aren’t enough to send the FBI, so it’s up to local Texas Rangers to catch the thieves. Soon to be retired Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and his half Comanche partner Ranger Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham) take up the case.
Set in the sun-baked, sleepy and equally rural locale of West Texas, Hell or High Water is a thrilling atypical heist film. From the writer of Sicario and Sons of Anarchy, Taylor Sheridan’s gritty screenplay is a welcomed change from the bombast of Summer movie fare. Though on the surface Hell or High Water is a simple case of cops versus robbers with an underlying dark comedic tone, the film is more engaging than anything opening this weekend. Pine and Foster are great as the dopey Howard brothers but the racially charged banter between Bridges and Birmingham.
Overall Hell or High Water could be the sleeper hit of the Summer. A taught, thriller that left me with a few audible gasps. It was a bright spot at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, which is understandable. Hell or High Water breaks the mold of formulaic Hollywood tales of good vs bad. Honestly, there’s neither a good nor bad force opposing each other. Just a pair of desperate men and the officers charged to stop them.
Rated: R @ 102 mins