Hell or High Water: The Refreshing Break to a Disappointing Year

By: Ryan Beard


Let’s face it, this year has been somewhat of a disappointment as far as movies are concerned. Many films that are highly anticipated turn out to be complete duds. But, recently one film has come out of nowhere to practically save the entire year. This movie is Hell or High Water, directed by David Mackenzie. The film stars Chris Pine and Ben Foster as two Texan bank-robbers, and Jeff Bridges as the seasoned Texas ranger trying to stop them. On paper, this may seem like a run-of- the- mill action film, but it is anything but. The film takes its time introducing its characters, and the motivation behind the central bank robberies are perfectly incorporated into the narrative.

The movie also has one great thing going for it: it’s very, very well-made. The direction is spot on by David Mackenzie, with beautiful sweeping shots of the Texas flatlands and complex intertwining shots of the bank robberies. Mackenzie also utilizes the great performance of his lead actors to make the movie even more compelling. The one actor that truly shines is Ben Foster, as the renegade brother of fellow-robber Chris Pine. Foster puts a manic energy and believability into his performance that isn’t seen as often anymore. He puts a wide range of emotion into his role as well, with moments of intense fury contrasting moments of melancholia. After watching the film twice, I was convinced that Foster is practically a shoe-in for an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He is that good. But, Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges also give terrific performances, which are not to be missed. Jeff Bridge’s chemistry with his partner Texas Ranger, played by Gil Birmingham, is very comedic but also very deep and genuine. Another great aspect of Hell or High Water is the cinematography. It’s jaw-dropping. There are beautiful shots of Texan sunsets, amazing long Steadicam takes of robberies and the getaway, and the opening shot is not to be missed, (it’s over a minute long).

In short, Hell or High Water is by far the most well-made movie I’ve seen this year. But more than that, this movie is gripping, and it’s smart. It gives great emotional motivation to its characters, and goes to great lengths to show parts of the aftermath of the robberies that surprisingly well thought-out. Also, this movie has a good social message, and one that is pretty relatable. It’s just about two guys who are down on their luck but need a certain amount of cash before a certain date, or else a bank will repossess their own home. Hell or High Water presents something that barely any large theatrical releases have shown thus far this year: a complex and original storyline with incredible performances, interesting direction and cinematography, and it came out of nowhere. I had no problems at all with it. And it is a very refreshing break to a disappointing year.


Want to be a Student Critic? Email for information.

Leave a Comment