Hell or High Water

Hell or High Water

In Theatres: 
Aug 19, 2016
Running Time: 
102 minutes

Hell or High Water is one of this year’s best films. It’s an intense and emotional character-driven film that explores the lengths people will go to for family and exactly what you would expect from the same writer of Sicario, Taylor Sheridan. There’s no other film quite like it.


Brothers Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster) Howard are on the verge of having the bank foreclose on their recently deceased mother’s property and risk losing everything. Not willing to let that happen, Toby hatches a plan with the help of his criminal brother to rob a series of banks owned by the same company that is trying to take their house. It’s a solid plan that involves hitting the local branches in the morning and only taking what cash is in the drawers, then heading to the local Native American casino to exchange the dirty money. It’s not perfect, however, as Sheriff Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and his partner Alberto (Gil Birmingham) are hot on their trail. That doesn’t matter to the Howard brothers because they’ll do anything to make sure their family is supported.


Heist films tend to revolve around the planning of said heist, and then the big payoff is getting to see its execution. Hell or High Water opens with the first of many heists and slowly builds as the cops and robbers play a tense game of cat and mouse. It’s as thrilling as it is intense with a Western edge. It doesn’t get fancy with special effects or over-the-top action. It keeps thing simple, which results in some oftentimes brutal scenes that hit you at your core. But what the film does so expertly well is make you root for both sides.


You care about Toby and Tanner. Toby has done everything right in his life and the evil corporate bankers are threatening to take that all away from him. This is the last straw for him. For Tanner, it’s nothing new. He’s in it because his brother asked him to. He may be an idiot and an absolute pig at times, but family runs deep with him. On the opposite side of the law, you care about Sheriff Marcus and Alberto, too. All they care about is bringing these criminals to justice. Jeff f Bridges’ Marcus can be terribly racist towards Alberto at times, but their partnership is very much just like the brotherhood between Toby and Tanner. While you want to see the brothers stick to the man and get away with robbing the banks, there’s still a part of you that wants to see them get caught.


Hell or High Water delivers brilliant performances all around from Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges, and Gil Birmingham, and will leave you questioning your moral compass. It’s a film that continues to build in intensity and never lets up. Oscar season has started early this year, and Hell or High Water is at the top of my list.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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