Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Hell or High Water [2016]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB ()  ChicagoTribune (3 1/2 Stars)  RogerEbert.com (2 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (A-)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB () review
ChicagoTribune (M. Philips) review
RogerEbert.com (P. Sobczynski) review
AVClub (A.A. Dowd) review  

Hell or High Water [2016] (directed by David Mackenzie, screenplay by Taylor Sheridan) is a relatively straightforward "Western" if set in Texas of the very recent past:

Two brothers, "modern day desperados", Toby (played by Chris Pine) and Tanner (played by Ben Foster) go on a crime spree -- holding-up banks (rather than stage coaches) in sleepy little towns dotting the West Texas plains -- hightailing it out of said towns in get-away cars (rather than on horses).   They're doing so to "save the family farm" from unscrupulous bank lenders (rather than "the railroads" of yore).  Of course, two Texas Rangers (played by Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham) are sent out (from their bureau in Lubbuck, TX) to bring them to justice.  At one point, the two brothers even head-up to "Indian Country" (an Indian run casino up in Oklahoma) where they quite ingeniously launder their cash (again, not a ton of cash ... enough to ... well ... possibly "save that farm).

So do they succeed in "saving the farm"?   Should they (be allowed to succeed... by the film-makers)?  IMHO, _that's_ what this film is about.

Westerns are generally stark and it's _generally easy_ to see who's "wearing the white hats" and "who's wearing the dark ones."  This is a bit more complicated because the protagonists are clearly breaking the law.  And yet, we in the audience _understand why_.  Still, the law is the the law, right?  And stealing is not merely "against the law" ... it's against the (7th/8th) Commandment -- THOU SHALT NOT STEAL. 

So how is this supposed to end?  And how are the two Texas Rangers supposed to look at this?  Should they just hunt them down?  Should they "try to understand"?  But should it be even part of _their job description_ to "try to understand"?   After all, most criminals _do_ "have a story..."

Anyway, this is a very simple story that should leave the Viewer with a lot of uncomfortable questions.  Again, anyone with a heart would _understand_ BUT ...

Good job ;-)


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