Hell or High Water Review – Powerful, Gripping, Smart, Four Stars

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Hell or High Water, from Lionsgate, CBS Films, Film 44 and Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, presents a smart, well written, clever contemporary cops and robbers drama that moves intensely across the West Texas plains in a race against the time.

Directed by David Mackenzie, Hell or High Water stars Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine and Ben Foster with Gil Birmingham and a cast of authentic character and supporting actors including Debrianna Mansini, Margarte Bowman, Gregory Cruz, Dale Dickey, Kristin Berg and Amber Midthunder. Hell or High Water was written by Taylor Sheridan of Sicario fame.

Hell or High Water begins quickly, in a whoosh of fast screeching tires two men, The Howard Brothers, Toby, played by Chris Pine and Tanner, played by Ben Foster, have arrived just a few minutes before the local bank of Midland Texas branch opens.

Donning ski masks the two suddenly become fugitives, forcing Elsie, played by Dale Dicky, to open the draw, taking only small unmarked bills, no ink packs and they pick up about seven grand for their troubles.

Back home at the ranch, Toby, the good son, as the story unfolds, took care of their dying mother, who recently passed away while Tanner did time in a Texas correctional facility.  

Working on a plan, the brothers move to another Midland Texas bank branch, picking up another seven or eight grand. Back at the ranch, they bury the cars, deep under the surface, not sinking in some waterhole, not burning, as the details emerge one understands this isn’t a happenstance or spur of the moment crime spree brought on by a wayward brother coercing the good son into a life of crime.

The bank robbers, small potatoes for the feds are leaving the case up to the locals and soon to retire Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton, played by Jeff Bridges, and his partner, Alberto Parker, played by Gil Birmingham. The crime has legs as the boys are traveling across the state. Hamilton and Parker take to the highway in pursuit.

Soon the two are bantering back and forth with Hamilton jabbing Parker, who is of Indian heritage, with ethnic slurs about every ten minutes or so making the three-hour trip from Lubbock to Vernon, Texas, a slow itchy crawl.  

Hamilton, suffering with pre-retirement blues, has put together a pattern and based on his forty odd years of experience explains to his unconvinced partner the boys are only hitting Midland Texas Bank Branches and narrowing the possibilities to the few remaining branches the two set up a West Texas stakeout.

What sets up the final explosive act, a glitch in the plan and the much needed cash along with a narrowing window and quickly approaching deadline, the boys break the pattern which results in over exposure.

Hell and High Water is billed as two brothers rob the bank that is about to foreclose on the family ranch. And while that seems a bit cut and dry for the depth of the plot, it does sum up the film. The idea of course is not to rob just any bank which the well thought out, smart, plan would have the debt paid for by those who held the power.

I really enjoyed Hell or High Water. It took a day for me to realize how good this film is as I inadvertently ended up at the wrong theater door and Hell or High Water had just began playing, I almost skipped my next screening and watched it again.

Hell and High Water is smartly written and well-acted. The entire Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine and Ben Foster to the supporting players, Debrianna Mansini, Margarte Bowman, whom audiences will remember from “No Country For Old Men” Gregory Cruz, Dale Dickey, Kristin Berg, Amber Midthunder and many other give outstanding top of the game performances.

Jeff Bridges dispels ageism with his performances as he maintains both the crotchety Sheriff, maintaining an attitude allowed only with age, and the sharpshooting nerves of steel with smarts and wit to understand the criminal mind. He upholds the age is only a number adage as his mind is sharp as retirement looms.

Chris Pine manages to turn his criminal behavior to something honorable and an act of compassion. The ability to create the sympathy for a character that clearly without question participated in criminal endeavors that have long-term consequences and injury is a credit to the skill of the actor, the writing and the directing.

Ben Foster, whom audiences may not be as familiar, understands from the beginning the end and with reservation or delusion he moves the plan that benefits only the future, oddly he helps build a tree that he will never sit under, he will never feel the shade, and the audience is forgiving of him and even hopes for him, until he takes one shot too many.

Hell or High Water is a powerful film, solid, fast moving. Absorbing performances challenged only by the uncultivated vast horizon, the singularity of life against the land, never ending landscapes, the serenity or severity of life on a Texas ranch.

Hell or High Water is impressive and captivating with a few notable scenes to watch: The final scenes with Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges are poised on expectation; the early bank robbery scenes, as Toby adjusts to the unusual criminal persona his brother seems to possess. The horseplay against the fading light of day, so symbolic.

Hell or High Water is a must see film! Jeff Bridges is outstanding! Chris Pine and Ben Foster have an on screen chemistry that surprises. Stand out scenes with the local tellers and waitresses who deliver compelling timely performances.

A haunting drama, Hell and High Water opens August 12, 2016 in select markets. Check local listings and streaming platforms. 

Images courtesy of Lionsgate/CBS Films asn used with permission.

Haute Tease

  • Celebrities Use Bee Venom Cream Mask such as Kalon Skincare to Keep Their Vitality Glowing

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    It has been reported that celebrities around the world have turned to the highly effective lifting properties of bee venom. From Fashion forward Royal Kate Middleton, Victoria Beckham, Gywneth Paltrow, to Supermodels Danii Minogue, (Huffington Post, Vogue 2012, Sunrise Australia) Kylie Bax, and many others have turned to various bee venom skincare treatments that were reportedly first introduced to Ms. Middleton by Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.

     
  • Serenity Review – A Modernized Noir Thriller With All the Right Bait

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Serenity, from Aviron Pictures, presents a modernized noir thriller complete with the femme fatale in need of rescue, the jilted ex, the abusive new husband, heartache, justice and freedom and building a life created out of circumstances.

     
  • Girl, 5, Elderly Man Dead in Devastating Pliger Twin Twisters

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The sun rose on day two after catastrophic twin tornadoes tore through the town of Pilger Nebraska, killing two and critically injuring 19 others, and decimating the small rural town in northwest portion of the state.

     
  • Pourtal Wine Tasting Bar: A Wine Lover's Paradise

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Pourtal Wine Tasting Bar, located on Santa Monica Blvd just east of Ocean Drive in Santa Monica, recently hosted an evening of introduction at a private wine tasting event.

     
  • Camp X-Ray Review – Exceptional, Attention Grabbing, Character Driven Performances

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    "Camp X-Ray," from Rough House Productions and IFC Films, brings to the screen a realistic portrayal of post 9-11 life for both terror suspects detained at Guantanamo Bay and guards responsible for keeping them alive.

     
  • The Rise of Malort Review: How One Unique Liqueur Became Chicago's Drink of Choice

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Malort: for some, the word is foreign, but to others it brings instant memories of a bitter-tasting drink, one they've managed to avoid since they were first coerced into trying it. It's a distilled liqueur, made with wormwood—Malort is the Swedish word for wormwood, which is the same plant used in making absinthe.

     
  • Beltway Insider: Obama Restores Diplomatic Relations with Cuba; FBI SONY Deal With Cyber Terror Attack

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    President Obama formally announced, in one of the first real breaks from party standard bearers, a major foreign policy shift, ending fifty years of ineffective action, which will advance the effort to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba and the Castro regime.

     
  • Paris Fashion Week Rani Zakhem Couture Spring Summer 2018 - Gorgeous, Vibrant, Exquisite

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Fury, fervor, effervescence! For his first couture fashion show in Paris, Rani Zakhem celebrates life and joy in incandescent metaphors. Fire is the essential element of this sumptuous yet relaxed collection, dedicated to a volcanic woman.

     
  • World-Class Orchestra Announces Next Year’s Exciting Summer Line-Up Beginning June 28, 2014

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    August 26, 2013 – It was a Cal Phil weekend full of awe-inspiring performances, music magic and a string of standing ovations that marked the conclusion of another successful summer season for the world-class orchestra and the building excitement for next year’s series.  

     
  • Sundance Hit Film “Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise” Opening October 14

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    American Masters Pictures presents a theatrical release by ARC Entertainment of the Sundance hit documentary MAYA ANGELOU:  AND STILL I RISE first feature documentary about the incomparable Maya Angelou will be released in theaters nationwide.  

  • Legends of Oz Dorothy’s Return Review – Limping Along on the Yellow Brick Road

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    "Legends of Oz Dorothy's Return," from Summertime Entertainment, brings to the screen a new take on a classic favorite as Dorothy Gale returns to Oz and in the course of her travels  meets new friends and rescues old ones.

     
  • Prive Executive Private Jets - The Ultimate Luxury Experience

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Soar through the skies to the world’s finest destinations with Privé Jets and experience a world of endless travel possibilities in luxury and style on your next vacation. Privé Jets has planes are based in various locations around the world; we have access to the entire market place which is over 6,000 planes worldwide.

     
  • Ashland Oregon Day Trips Review - Stunning Beauty from Mountain to Sea

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Ashland Oregon Day Trips, from author Barbara Tricarico, presents a beautiful collection of photographs that capture her home state in all its majesty and splendor as she travels from the golden coastline to the mountain peaks.

     
  • Beltway Insider: Biden’s Budget, GOP Fights, COVID Totals/Pets, Cuomo, Navalny, David Newhouse, Vernon Jordan

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    President Joe Biden's 1.9T Budget, America's Rescue Plan, passed the Senate yesterday after Republicans attempted to hijack the proceedings calling for a verbal, page by page, reading of the 628-page document forcing a 27-hour senate session.

     
  • Aaron Hernandez, Former New England Patriot, Commits Suicide

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Aaron Hernandez, 27, the former New England Patriots Football player, was found dead in his prison cell from an apparent suicide where he was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for a 2013 murder.