2016 is considered one of the worst blockbusting years in Hollywood history ever, and it’s no secret why. You are either submerged into a flood of stupid sequels (Independence Day II & Ice Age – what is it? – five or six, I lost count!), ridiculous remakes (Ghostbusters or Ben-Hur, take your pick!) or flat-out unoriginal blockbusters the likes of which you have seen many times before – and usually a hell of a lot better! (the new Jason Bourne is … meh!).
So when an original story comes along, we – the film buffs of this world – stand up and applaud. And when that original story has great actors and even better performances, we – again, the same film freaks – shout out loud like a Tarzan in a jungle (by the way, the new Tarzan-movie was a more than decent remake!) And when that original story with its great actors and even greater performances present us with a slick, smooth cinematography of a previously fairly unknown director … we – the movie nerds of this planet – forget to breathe and wipe a tear away in utter joy!
To say that Hell or high water is a masterpiece is churning out a good compliment. Sure thing, it’s much better than virtually anything Hollywood has produced this year in terms of originality, but this ain’t no Open Range or No country for old men. Thóse were true masterpieces!
This movie settles in the same atmosphere – which is the modern-day cowboy Western genre – and many things are beyond good, but it’s still got a looong way to walk before it’ll ever reach the hally-friggin’-halleluja entertainment-status of prior cattle-ranchers.
In other words, it’s a good movie. But it ain’t a great movie!
But don’t let that little shred of reality shred your enthusiasm. If there’s one drama movie you GOTTA see this year, it’s this one! The piece and quiet this movie breathes is intoxicating. As fun as it is to watch Spider-man battle Captain America in The Avengers 2,5 – it is equally delightful to experience the beautiful camerawork and semi-method acting of the cast & crew of Hell or high water.
It’s a movie that dares to be different! A movie that doesn’t care about money (though the story is driven by it!) or success. Here is a movie that wants to tell a good story, that wants to share realistic character development, that wants to surprise the audience with lively plot changes that you won’t see coming from a mile away.
Though the ending weakens out a little, there ain’t no mud-covered cow in Texas that you’ll ever walk out of the cinema, no way José! Even if you’re a die hard action fan (pun intended … you know … Die Hard as the movie and die hard as in ‘really real’ … pfff, whatever!) you’ll still feel inclined to sit through the rest of the movie coz everything comes together so neatly.
The story is as simple as it’s effective. Two young boys rob banks and they do it meticulously and well-prepared. That much harder for the sheriff and his deputy to trace their tracks. It is this particular cat-and-mouse game that keeps driving the story forward. Though I’m sure you’ve seen much better cat-and-mouse game before (The fugitive being certainly one of ’em), this movie places itself comfortably as one of the finest of its kind these past few years.
The story takes place in Texas … and Gosh-God-Gully … you’ll be hearin’ loads of trash-talkin’ mud-scrapers shufflin’ their tired feet all over the white cinema screen, lemme tell ya! If y’all can’t stand no real Texas-talkin’, ya’ll better haul your asses outta here and be watchin’ some dire old English tootin’ Eurotrash motion picture. This thang right here … is 100% REAL American shiiiit! (sorry, I just hád to release the inner cowboy in me).
Acting performances are all around good, but the one that truly sticks is from none other than Jeff Bridges. Though the man wouldn’t be worth a penny without his sidekick, the modest but not-to-be-missed performance of Gil Birmingham, it’s the deep-throat voice of the former Big Lebowski that takes the American pie (normally, we say ‘take the cake’, but in a movie as American as this one … you get it).
The trigger-happy duo Ben Foster and Chris Pine also take up some serious time. Each character is different from another and the movie establishes those brotherly differences quite well.
Last but not least – a little treat for all you boys out there: be sure to check out Katy Mixon coz this gall has a sparklin’ white smile and eyes like flashin’ diamonds.
A Texas girl like you’d only imagine in your dreams … keep ’em comin’, folks!
did you know?
The phrase ‘come hell or high water’ typically means: do whatever needs to be done, no matter the circumstances.
Give it to me straight:
Hell or high water is a much-needed refreshment from all the loud, noisy blockbusters, big expensive superhero-movies and failed sequels and remakes to churn out more money out of an original idea that died a long time ago.
This movie may take its roots from prior Westerns – who were in their right mind a little bit better – but at least it tells an original story. And that by itself is quite the miracle these days in Tinseltown. No action heroes in flashy colors fighting amongst themselves. No rough-‘n’-though lonely gunslinger who survives fighting a war against an army of thugs. And no Special Effects show of Computer Generated Images till your brains explode like lasagna in the microwave oven.
Hell or high water is simple but effective! Low key acting performances, a beautiful Texas scenery (through nothing was ever filmed in Texas, really!), great casting, great camerawork and most especially: the quiet and tempered tempo of a Western that only seeks to entertain its audience through the very basic elements of how movies were once made, before computers took it all over! Sometimes, believe it or not, it’s even a bit of a comedy … I mean it! One or two scenes are really funny!!
Yes, the ending may be a little off, but by then you’ve already fallen in love with this plain old cat-and-mouse game between good guy and bad guy!
Back to basics in Hollywood … it sure feels like a nice change …
Thank y’all, folks!! 🙂