Hell or High Water (2016)
Starring Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster, and Gil Birmingham
Directed by David Mackenzie
Much like is typical in the Western genre -- at least for this reviewer -- Hell or High Water is a very slow starter. Director David Mackenzie's film is lullingly dull in its first forty-five minutes when it comes to plot. Sure, the rapport between the Howard brothers and the two Texas Rangers provides heart and humor, but the film was lacking forward momentum and drive. (Once again, this seems typical of most westerns for me, so your mileage may vary.) The film's second half picks up the pace, racing forward as the two aforementioned duos meet each other following an intense bank robbery, ending the film on a much better note than it started.
While dull at times, the main quartet of four actors solidly delivers. Ben Foster is charismatic as Tanner whose unhinged personality ultimately overtakes his more subdued brother Toby who is subtly played by Chris Pine with just the right amount of emotional pain to make me truly believe his character's descent into crime. The two feel incredibly natural together, coming off as believable brothers despite their distinct personalities. Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham play splendidly off of one another in large part thanks to the wonderfully witty and natural dialog conjured up by screenwriter Taylor Sheridan who has a keen ear for the spoken word (even if the film's plot leaves a little to be desired).
The acting certainly elevates the whole film and is undoubtedly the reason for giving this one a go. Mackenzie as a director creates an incredibly taut and exciting final act, but unfortunately, the build up to the final moments is a bit slow. This is a capable film that is perhaps more highly praised this awards season than it should be, but I imagine that's in large part due to the fact that the film ends much more enjoyably than how it begins.
The RyMickey Rating: B-