Movie Review: Hell or High Water

Cannes Review: Chris Pine and Ben Foster in 'Hell or High Water' - Variety

credit: Hell or High Water

The saying “Don’t mess with Texas” is something that many people laugh at to this day since there are instances when this statement is true, and there are others when the statement is a bad joke since, much like any other state, Texas has been changing in a lot of ways as progressivism continues to sweep across the nation. But this story is a great example of why people shouldn’t mess with Texans since bank robbers and brothers Toby and Tanner are rather good at what they do, but Tanner’s wild side continues to upset Toby since his brother can’t help from being the wild man that he’s apparently been all his life. For the two brothers, robbing banks is a way to keep their family ranch from being taken into foreclosure, which is a huge problem as a lot of people have come to figure out over the years. This is also why the common folks that are questioned about the bank robberies, later on, are divided in what information they grant to the two federal marshals that are placed on the brothers’ trail. As Marcus and Alberto close in, however, they start to figure out the pattern that Tanner and Toby are using and attempt to set a trap for the two brothers. 

Hell or High Water (2016) - IMDb

credit: Hell or High Water

Ben Foster plays a great wild card since he’s been portraying such characters for years. 

In movies and on TV, Ben has been the type of individual that has managed to come off as a bit crazy at times since his characters are often a little unhinged or a lot. His time in Alpha Dog, 30 Days of Night, and several other movies, as well as an episode of the TV show, My Name is Earl, show that he’s able to go from zero to one hundred in a very short time. In this movie, he does dial it down a time or two and manages to be the type of brother that one might think is devoted to his family, or to his brother at least, but is otherwise uncontrollable. The fact that he kills two men during a bank robbery that the brothers perform in the middle of the day proves that he’s not afraid to throw down, but this heist manages to get his brother shot as the surrounding townsfolk quickly form a posse that almost felt staged as they unload a hailstorm of lead at the two brothers. 

Posses tend to scatter or stand their ground depending on the reaction of those they’re standing against when it comes to the movies. 

The fact that Tanner comes out from behind the getaway truck spraying the posse with an automatic shower of bullets, makes it clear that he’s ready to die on this hill, so to speak. As the posse pulls back, the brothers end up reaching the other getaway car, where Toby heads off, and the two split ways. Unfortunately, Tanner encounters the two marshals and another group of cops as he veers off onto a dirt road, thinking to outsmart the cops or at the very least make a good accounting of himself. When he lights his truck on fire and rolls it down the road to collide with the cops, it’s made clear that he’s a little craftier than the marshals might have thought. But when he climbs a nearby hill to start sniping at the cops, he ends up taking out one of the marshals, only to be drilled with a headshot only a short while later by Marcus, the other marshal. Not too long after, Toby hears the announcement of his brother’s death over the news and makes plans to invest the money he needs. 

Hell or High Water Reviews - Metacritic

credit: Hell or High Water

Marcus’ casual racism as he pokes fun at Alberto might offend some folks, but it’s fair to say that it’s a term of endearment, even if it’s not needed. 

Like it or not, it’s not always possible to change the old dogs who are set in their ways when it comes to how they conduct themselves with others. It might not always be nice, and it might not always do anything other than assault the ears, but the fact is that Marcus is a product of his era. Alberto isn’t that much younger, but while he takes this passing abuse by way of one jibe after another, it becomes clear that he and Marcus do value each other, even if they don’t make it sound that way. 

The banks aren’t exactly the villains, but neither are the robbers. 

The truth of this movie is that the brothers are doing what they can to secure their family legacy while trying to get back at a banking system that is seeking to gain an opportunistic leg up but claiming their family land and selling it to oil drillers. While Tanner and Toby aren’t to be glorified for their actions, it’s tough to condemn them every step of the way since Toby is doing what he can to help his sons and ex-wife, while Tanner is just trying to help his brother. 

The problem is, crazy doesn’t always help in situations like this. 

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