Movie: Hell Or High Water
Rating: 4 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)
Review: Times are pretty dang tough in Midland, Texas. The economy has tanked all over West Texas, businesses have closed, and ranches are being foreclosed on. Specifically, the small spread owned by brothers Toby Howard (Chris Pine) and Tanner Howard (Ben Foster) is about to get taken by the local bank unless they can miraculously come up with $43,000. Toby is a n’eer do well with no steady job and no prospects, with an ex wife and two teenage sons to support. Tanner is recently out of prison, and definitely not likely to find a good paying job any time soon. The clock is ticking, and the family land is almost a memory….
All at once the sleepy towns around Midland experience a crime wave. It seems two jaspers in ski masks keep holding up branches of the Midland Bank, and make off with several thousand dollars with each score. The robberies are well planned, well executed, and no one gets seriously hurt. But law and order must prevail, and veteran Texas Rangers Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and his partner Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham) are on the case. Ranger Hamilton is not your average Texas Ranger. A throwback to an earlier breed of lawmen who were hard as nails, Hamilton is irreverent, possibly a bigot, and definitely not concerned with following rules and regulations. But with few clues and no witnesses who can identify the masked men, it looks as though it will take a stroke of luck to stop the bank heists.
This movie has got it all. It starts out a bit slow, and the ultra depressing and mostly vacant area in West Texas makes you wonder if this story was ever going to get off the ground. Then the complex characters of Toby and Tanner start to get us interested in what they are planning, and their adversaries, the two Texas Rangers are slowly but surely fated to intersect with the young bank robbers. The small town Texas atmosphere is authentic, the characters are compelling, and the plot keeps us on edge to the very end to see how it’s all going to turn out. Simply one of the best films of 2016. One of the small films that deserves Oscar consideration for Best Picture. A definite must see movie.
Dialogue Nuggets: Bank Employee to Robbers – “Y’all are new at this. I told you the money is in the safe. Just leave now, and all you’re guilty of is being stupid.”
Old Cowboy – “You boys robbing the bank? That’s crazy, you ain’t even Mexican.”
Ranger Parker to Hamilton – “You want to hear about these robberies, or just sit there and let Alzheimer’s run it’s course?”
Ranger Hamilton to Parker – “Maybe one of these bank robbers will want to have a gunfight, and I can avoid retirement and go out in a blaze of glory!”
Bank Manager to Texas Ranger – “What kind of bank would we be if we didn’t have surveillance video?” Ranger – “A Midland bank.”
Indian Man – “You know what Comanche means? Enemy of everyone.” Tanner to Indian – “You know what that makes me? A Comanche.”
Toby to Tanner – “How the f*ck did you manage to stay out of prison for a year?”
Ranger Hamilton – “This guy wouldn’t know Jesus if He crawled up his pants leg and bit him on his pecker.”
Toby – “I’ve been poor my whole life. It’s like a disease passing from generation to generation.”
Lawyer to Toby & Tanner – “Come hell or high water, be at the bank on Thursday.”
Best Scene: You gotta love the feisty waitress at the small town diner. You best be ordering the T-bone steak and potato. Just saying.
Best Cameos: Actress Margaret Bowman, the T-bone steak waitress. Remember the old TV series Gunsmoke? Buck Taylor, Marshall Dillon’s deputy, has a great role as a cantankerous old cowboy with a little bit of fight left in him.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: Where in the world did the Howard boys get those cars that they keep burying? Just wondering….