Director: David Mackenzie
Cast: Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges, Gil Birmingham, Dale Dickey
Runtime: 1 hr 42 mins
Rating: M18 (Sexual Scene and Coarse Language)
Released By: Shaw
Official Website: http://hellorhighwater.movie
Opening Day: 27 October 2016
Synopsis: A story about the collision of the old and new west, two brothers - Toby (Chris Pine), a straight-living, divorced father trying to make a better life for his son; and Tanner (Ben Foster), a short-tempered ex-con with a loose trigger finger come together to rob branch after branch of the bank that is foreclosing on their family land. The hold-ups are part of a last-ditch scheme to take back a future that powerful forces beyond their control have stolen from under their feet. Vengeance seems to be theirs until they find themselves in the crosshairs of a relentless, foul-mouthed Texas Ranger (Jeff Bridges) looking for one last triumph on the eve of his retirement. As the brothers plot a final bank heist to complete their plan, a showdown looms at the crossroads where the last honest law man and a pair of brothers with nothing to live for except family collide.
What it comes to heist and crime movies, what are the first things that you would think of? Lots of running, daredevil stunts, well choreographed car chases and very, very loud gun shots? These presumptions are thrown out of the window with Scottish director David MacKenzie’s latest work, a heist and crime film that moves along steadily and boasts emotionally engaging performances from its leads.
MacKenzie (Young Adam, Perfect Sense) works with Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine and Ben Foster to tell a story of two brothers who carry out a series of robberies to save their family fortune. The movie takes place in West Texas: the divorced Toby (Pine) and his ex con brother Tanner (Foster) are planning to commit several small scale bank heists, and their differing personalities (Toby is cool headed, while Tanner’s wild nature often leads him to take unnecessary risks) get in the way. Enter Bridges’ Marcus, a ranger who is about to retire, to catch the robbers. The three men will cross paths and cook up a human drama that boasts emotional honesty.
There is nothing more satisfying than seeing three actors putting in their best to play engagingly fleshed out characters. Here, Pine is no longer the pretty face we are familiar with – he wants you to forget that he is James T Kirk from the Star Trek movies. Playing the man who wants to do the right things within his means, this is easily the 36 year old actor’s career best. A nice contrast comes in the form of Foster’s trigger happy character – his volatility comes with a vulnerability that makes you feel for the man.
And you can always count on Bridges to deliver a marvelous performance. His senior officer takes his time to speak in a gruffly growl that is affectionately endearing. Playing a supporting role is Gil Birmingham, a fellow ranger with a Mexican descent. The two men banter casually, with the latter soaking up his boss’s insults. These scenes are brilliantly played out, making you wish more movies could capture the relationship between two characters so well.
The actors’ superb performances are complemented by MacKenzie’s sure handed directing. He does not compromise the story with convenient action sequences. NickCaveand Warren Ellis’ hauntingly foreboding score is powerful and leaves you with what every film should do - caring for the characters. No one is a good guy, and neither of them is a villain. The result is a very well observed character study which is uncommon in today’s movies.
It will be convenient to disregard this very well made film. Viewers who are spoilt by high budgeted blockbusters will find this film slow moving and lacking action scenes. The screenplay allows characters to play out the dynamics between them, and scenes take place in bare diners, casinos and the sparse lands. Each scene is an opportunity for viewers to appreciate the finer things in life, and soak up this fine story of three men, each with a heartfelt tale to tell.
(A film with emotional depth and honesty that tells a fine story of three men’s seemingly different, yet similar sympathetic lives)
Review by John Li