Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Hell or High Water: Monday, August 22 2016

Hell or High Water is a highly entertaining movie in the American Wild West genre. Directed by Scottish director David Mackenzie, it is written by Taylor Sheridan, and this script was the winner of the 2012 Black List of Hollywood. The direction is competent and the film flows. Filmed in New Mexico, the story is set in Texas.

Chris Pine and Ben Foster, play brothers Toby and Tanner Howard. They both are totally believable in their characters. Jeff Bridges is Marcus Hamilton, a Texas Ranger, and Gil Birmingham plays his partner, Alberto Parker, a Comanche. Their relationship could have been played up a little. Hamilton keeps making Comanche jokes, and Parker simply keeps quiet. In a less highly sensitive age, Parker would have been joking back, the two men demonstrating their affection for each other. Instead, I felt that no one was comfortable with the situation that could have been used as comedy.

Texas is depicted as a Bible-thumping place, filled with people toting guns. The inevitable happens: one brother is killed by a fantastic shot by Hamilton. The brother had shot and killed Parker, Hamilton's partner. Hamilton was furious, and this justified him taking out the killer. The other brother escapes any consequence of his criminal actions. The bank is depicted as being a rapacious money gatherer, and it almost seems justified that two clients should rob it. Perhaps that was the modern theme of the story. It was far from the old-fashioned story of two criminals both getting their "just deserts". It has been described as a "socially aware" film. I found it thought-provoking in its attitudes. It's all right to rob a bank if it has given you a mortgage that you default on. It's the bank's fault that you will lose your home because you can't carry a mortgage you probably ought not have taken out in the first place?

Entertaining, if you don't think too deeply about the messages it is conveying.

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