Hell or High Water ★★★★★

Hell or High Water might be the most adult film I've seen this decade. No gimmicks. No juvenile tendencies. No bull. No cheap shots. It's a Deep Fried Wild West Western Texas Noir, filmed in New Mexico, but it's Texas to the bone. 

Jeff Bridges is the cop. Chris Pine is the robber. However, they're both duel-protagonists. The outlaw in me wanted Mr Pine to win the duel. While my conscience cheered on Mr Bridges. Both, have polar opposite partners. Pine's is his brother, played by Ben Foster. While Bridges' is his Native-American Texas Ranger partner portrayed by Gil Birmingham. Some of the most realistic dialogue I've heard on the screen comes from the back and forth banter from each pair. The relationships these men share are the centerpieces to the story.

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis' film score is about as Western as a Wild West shootout at High Noon. My lord, the realism the music brings to the picture is mind-blowing. Plus, Chris Stapleton's Outlaw State of Mind is a wonderfully fitting closing credits song. 

About the realism. The violence is as real as it gets. Nothing pretty. Nothing Hollywood. It reminded me of the sudden violence seen on the tv series, Justified. The plot and its social commentary. Now, this makes you think. Who's really the bad guy? Is Chris Pine's Toby Howard a Robin Hood-esque character or a common criminal? Or, maybe he's both? What about the banks? Do they deserve to be robbed? Are the bankers the real crooks? You can tell these characters all lived a hard life. Pine isn't too old, but his son is in high school. He grew up poor and brought children into this world at a relatively young age. Poverty made Pine grow up too quick. Not to mention the other struggles you see in the movie. The desperate lady at the casino bar. The waitress and the bills she struggles to pay. The old man and his rolled up coins. The rundown towns. The look of absolute desperation on every single face you see. Plus, the pistols, rifles and AK's we encounter throughout the movie. It might be against the law to not carry a firearm in Hell or High Water.

David Mackenzie directs something special. The way he turns New Mexico into Texas is bravo. Taylor Sheridan delivers an Oscar worthy screenplay. I doubt there will be a more fitting conclusion to a movie this year. What an ending. Bridges, Pine and Foster all deserve award recognition. Pine looks like the Marlboro Man and Bridges looks like a retired Marlboro Man with a hint of John Wayne in him. I'm not one to throw out 5 stars liberally, but if there's any movie released in 2016 deserving my highest praise, it's Hell or High Water.

Todd Gaines liked these reviews