Earlier this year both Chris Pine and Ben Foster starred in disaster drama ‘The Finest Hours’. I was quite the fan of this movie so welcomed the reuniting of the pair for a more modern western in the shape of ‘Hell or High Water’. In an unmistakably sublime year for the western genre this film had a lot to live up too but it also had the chance to jump on the success train with the likes of ‘The Hateful Eight’ and ‘Bone Tomahawk’.
Chris Pine is having a great year in terms of the quality of his films; the already discussed ‘The Finest Hours’ was a pleasant surprise and his continued work in the ‘Star Trek’ series meant that said franchise came out on top in blockbuster season. I’m pleased to report that the quality doesn’t take a dip here and ‘Hell or High Water’ could actually be Pine’s best film of the year. The three leading men; Chris Pine, Ben Foster & Jeff Bridges are all brilliant in their respective roles. Pine and Foster play brothers here and have a very believable chemistry. Pine anchors the film being the likeable lead whereas Foster plays the more unhinged and unpredictable of the brothers. This is important for much of the narrative and as you can imagine Foster is perfect for this kind of character. Their chemistry offered a nice dynamic for film and is an example of how brothers should be written, take note ‘Ben-Hur’. Jeff Bridges plays a Texas Ranger who is nearing his retirement date, a little cliched I suppose but when Bridges is playing the ranger in question there’s no need to worry about that. It’s his job to hunt down the brothers here and what he lacks in youth he certainly makes up for in experience. Bridges is fantastic throughout the film and stood out for me, there are certain scenes which allow the audience to really witness his acting ability, these are sprinkled throughout the run time creating many top class examples of this ability.
The narrative is good too, quite simple in premise it doesn’t reveal everything straight away which is always useful. However, thankfully it doesn’t ever hold too much back as to become frustrating. My only complaints about the film were a small dip in the pace after the initial opening action and it takes a tad too long to wrap up. Other than those minor issues the narrative is really enjoyable and well put together. Included in the story was some nice humour, the best of which comes from an interchange at a diner with a ‘rattlesnake’ of a waitress. More moments like this would have slightly elevated the film for me but nonetheless the comedic elements were good when they featured. A mention has to be given to the score and soundtrack too, full of country & western style music it really helps move along the narrative, give it pace and create a more authentic atmosphere for the film. There are plenty of top-tapping tunes in this mix so you might have a hard time keeping your yeehas to yourself!
Through good casting and great performances ‘Hell or High Water’ always had a chance. In addition to these it was the strong foundation of writing that created an engaging narrative. Combined with those gems of humour and an appropriately gun slinging soundtrack this modern crime western easily hits the target and should have audiences riding back into town again and again to re-watch.
Rating – 8.5/10
Question: What is your favourite Jeff Bridges role?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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