Director of 2013’s brutal Starred up David Mackenzie returns with Hell or High Water, a western that’s littered with some of the best performances of the year so far.
Brothers Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner Howard (Ben Foster) plan a series of heists against various branches of the bank that’s about to foreclose on their family ranch. All the while being chased down by two Texas rangers, partners Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham).
Pine shines as he finally obtains a role to sink his teeth into, quietly stealing the show while constantly reigning his abrasive brother in, with Foster portraying unhinged in a flashier performance. Bridges is at his usual best, showing affection to his partner through cultural jibes, the likes of which would be offensive if not coming from the closest of friends, or family. Birmingham impressively shows his respect to his experienced partner through little dialogue, instead opting for knowing glances. The parallels between the bonds both siblings and partners share not only drives the narrative but are the highlight of the film.
Hell or High Water takes its time, with intimate moments seamlessly combined with rowdier scenes and along the way the lines are blurred between the perceived “good guys” and “bad guys”. Written by Taylor Sheridan, who penned the script of 2015’s stand-out Sicario, again showcases his talents through intricate conversations and complex relationships, with pitch-perfect humour thrown in for good measure.
Boasting a taut script and rich characters, Hell or High Water is a masterfully crafted contemporary western.