"Hell or High Water" combines the action of a heist film with the slow development of a Western. I love heist films and I’m not a huge fan of Westerns, so this has been a difficult film for me to assess. The story is clever, the characters are dynamic, the acting is solid, and the cinematography is beautiful. On the other hand, I believe that the film would benefit from a faster pace. It wasn’t my favorite but I would argue that if this is the future of Westerns, we are headed in the right direction. It has a “No Country for Old Men” feel to it from the very start. It got to the point where I kept expecting Tommy Lee Jones to walk into each scene and couldn’t help but picture his face behind Jeff Bridges’ sunglasses and the brim of his hat. Bridges offers a strong “old man” performance that combines the strong will of a weathered lawman with the tiredness of a near retiree. It is memorable but I wouldn’t consider it to be a performance worthy of an Oscar nomination. Chris Pine has some impressive moments and plays well off of Ben Foster, who finds the right balance between being despicable and likeable. My favorite performance actually comes from Margaret Bowman as the old, sassy waitress. The t-bone steak scene was probably my favorite part of the movie and a well-timed moment of comic relief. The heist is well constructed from the selection of banks to the use of a casino for money laundering. Visually, the interesting camera angles and filming locations perfectly capture the Western setting. I don’t believe that “Hell of High Water” will win any Oscars (in fact, I believe that there were better candidates to have nominations in the categories of Film Editing and Supporting Actor) but its interesting bank robbery story and modern take on a Western are worth seeing.
[Pictured: This film is worth watching solely for this t-bone stteak scene]