A divorced father and his ex-con older brother resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family's ranch in West Texas.
There’s nothing like a modern western, the simmering dialogue, languid pace and the inevitable descent into gritty violence. And ever since this heist film first came on the horizon at Cannes I couldn’t wait for general release.
The cast alone is worth admission – Chris Pine and Ben Foster as loyal brothers trying to save the family farm by robbing banks? Yes and Yes. Throw in Jeff ‘The Dude’ Bridges as the about-to-retire Texas Ranger hunting them down? Bloody hell; just take my money now. They inhabit their rounded characters like a well-worn saddle; if they get over-looked at the Oscars it’ll be a travesty.
British director David MacKenzie backs up from his claustrophobic UK prison drama Starred Up with the wide-open planes of his first American feature. All beautifully shot by his regular cinematographer Giles Nuttgens, with a standout scene at dusk as the boys drink beers and remember better times. MacKenzie owns a debt of gratitude to screenwriter Taylor Sheridan. The man responsible for the intricate Sicario script delivers cracking dialogue and a sharp commentary on the debt-ridden reality of modern-day America.
This might sound all a bit heavy but this is action-packed too, with MacKenzie swapping from emotional character study to thrilling bank robberies with a slick sleight of hand. There’s even plenty of humour, from Ben Foster’s bawdy ex-con and some great banter between Bridges and his long-suffering partner.
And what’s a western without some quality country music, supplied by Aussie Nick Cave and Warren Ellis (The Proposition and Lawless) along with heart-breaking tracks from Townes Van Zandt and Waylon Jennings.
One of the top films of the year, Hell or High Water deserves high praise and is a great addition to great neo-westerns like No Country for Old Men, Mud and The Rover.
If you’re over the brainless blockbuster season saddle up for this gripping modern-day western. With cracking dialogue, stunning cinematography and a top-notch cast it’s an instant classic.
Releases: 27th October 2016
Duration: 102 minutes
Genre: Crime, Drama
Starring: Dale Dickey, Ben Foster, Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges
Director: David Mackenzie (Starred Up, Tonight You’re Mine)
The phrase "come hell or high water" typically means "do whatever needs to be done, no matter the circumstances". It also refers to the "hell or high water clause" which is a clause in a contract, usually a lease, which provides that the payments must continue irrespective of any difficulties which the paying party may encounter. Both definitions apply to different parts of the plot in this movie.
Comancheria (the film's original title) is set in West Texas and is named after the region of New Mexico, West Texas, and nearby areas occupied by the Comanche before the 1860s.
Parts of this movie were filmed at the Route 66 Casino, with the casino patrons/employees being voluntary extras.
This movie is set in Texas, but not a single scene was actually filmed there.
Parts of Comancheria (the film's original title) are being filmed in Clovis, NM, with residents of the city being used as extras.
The first two bank robberies take place in Archer City and Olney, Texas. These were towns used in the filming of The Last Picture Show (1971), which also starred Jeff Bridges.