Hell or High Water ★★★★

This is no Sicario. This is no No Country For Old Men. We see one bank job after the other in a neat 'cat and mouse', cause and effect story. But what is interesting is that director David Mackenzie refuses to be complacent and utilizes all his resources to smartly project the sorry state of affairs in rural America, if not America per se.

Though the doomed robbers- Tanner(Ben Foster) and Toby(Chris Pine)- who happen to be brothers too, go on a presumable downward spiral with each heist, they seem to be prepared for it. In fact, they are not expecting a bright future out of their antics. If Tanner- the nastier of the two- does it for the adrenaline rush and unflinching love for his little brother, Toby does it for something selfless. He wants to change the fate of his family. In a world where the rich get richer and the poor get only poorer, he wants to change the vicious cycle by force. There are no heroes or villains in Hell or High Water. Only grey areas. Everyone is a victim of the society, either trying to break out of the shell or capitulating to predetermined fate.

Another angle to look at Taylor Sheridan's script is through the bloody evolution of West Texas. Although I felt this was a little redundant, the invisible furore of the Native American populace is something Sheridan wants us to listen to. He wants us to view the empty landscape as the remains of an unjust past. Curiously, the present bears the same story where the only difference is that the hunters of the past have become the hunted, and the banks the new hunters.

I can see Jeff Bridges on his way to an Oscar nomination. Foster and Pine had a great partnership as the siblings, a move away for both from mediocre commercial films and a chance to prove their mettle as versatile talents. I do not know why the background score and cinematography of this film have not entered substantial forums yet. They have a huge role in elevating the ethos in Hell or High Water.

Bottomline is that Hell or High Water churned whatever it could from its creative "farm". If its genre-crossing narrative does not hook you, then the characters should. And if they don't, then just try finding some respite in the vast Texan scenery. At least, that has to be fail safe.

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