Hell or High Water Review

19 Aug


It would require constantly falling asleep throughout this film not to get what Taylor Sheridan is trying to say, and even then, a line or two might slip in about how the evil banks are suffocating the old way of life in town. As heavy-handed as the dialogue can be, though, this contemplation of generations past effectively lends an air of melancholy to the film. Along with the beautiful photography by Giles Nuttgens and the wonderful score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis–the masterminds behind the even more melancholic Assassination of Jesse James–the script’s themes do a nice job of drawing you into this desperation-filled world.

Sheridan also does well by the humor in the script, as there are plenty of brighter moments that cut through the darkness (T-Bone Waitress!). It may be on the nose, but it’s fun. He also corrects one of the major problems of his Sicario screenplay–its focus–as we get a very clear picture of who all these characters are and why they do what they do. It’s a simple but effective story, and there’s thankfully some nuance when it comes to figuring out who we’re supposed to root for. The bank robber and cop pairings are obviously on different sides of the law, but it’s made clear that there are overarching forces in the present that have been shading in the gray areas for a while now. Gone are the days of the cowboys and indians and seemingly clearcut conflicts. It’s even more complicated now, although one thing remains true: people will always have their shit taken away from them.

The final half hour of the film is electrifying and tension-filled, and though many people deserve credit for piecing it together and making it work, it’s really Jeff Bridges who carries it all. It’s an incredible performance and the most complex one in the film, and the actor brings his A game all the way through the masterful final scene.


Photo credit: Hell or High Water, CBS Films

One Response to “Hell or High Water Review”


  1. The Top 30 Films of 2016 | Polar Bears Watch TV - February 25, 2017

    […] 14. Hell or High Water – Screenwriter Taylor Sheridan is prone to spelling things out too clearly for the audience, but it’s still a sharp script that backs up a compelling story. […]

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