Hell or High Water is more than a mere distraction on a quiet Saturday afternoon and yet doesn’t have staying power. We follow two brothers, smart Toby and reckless Tanner, as they stumble through a series of bank robberies. Toby is a failed family man working toward a better future and Tanner sees no future while seemingly working toward failure. They’re hitting small time banks and covering their tracks well enough that the big cheese new guard is not interested. Who is?
Texas Ranger Marcus, played by Jeff Bridges, is a skilled sleuth needing an exciting case before retirement. Marcus is joined by his capable sidekick Alberto as they follow the trail of their cheap pasteurized prepared cheese product nabbers. We follow this cat and mouse game through the lense of beautiful and stylish cinematography in modern-day Texas with a subtle score by Nick Cave.
There is a poignant scene between Toby and his estranged son. Toby offers a beer and some life lessons when they finally meet. It is important to Toby that his son doesn’t make the same mistakes that he has done, to believe all of the rumors that he and his brother Tanner have done to be true, and to live a better life than he has lived. When Toby later asks his son why he’s not drinking the beer, his son says that he is trying to live a better life than his father.
Other interactions and banter show a defined world and realistic characters, and yet, it doesn’t quite hit some of the psychological or philosophical notes that inspire rewatchability for me. Two examples: First is the hyper-stylized digital experiment Tron: Legacy that is solidified by Bridges’s performance as the estranged father to a son that’s reached success and is looking for more. Second is Bridges’s career defining role in The Big Lebowski as an accidental sleuth that can be watched as a comedy, mystery, or character study, as well as quoted in many different situations. These movies have lasting impact that while they may not directly enrich your life, could plant the seeds for thought or laughs.
Even though I was inspired to collaboratively review Hell or High Water after finding the pictured movie ticket, and had a great conversation with friends after seeing it, I might have opted to see Kubo and the Two Strings instead. That review will be soon.
Rating: ★★★☆☆ [3/5]