Hell or High Water is a story about two brothers that decide to rob a series of banks in order to pay off the ample amount of debt they inherited when their mother passed away.
Toby (Chris Pine), is a divorced father who wants to make a better life for his family. His sons were left the family land in their grandmother’s will, but come to find out, the bank wants to foreclose on the property. Toby then comes up with a plan to rob 3 or 4 banks without maximum exposure and a limited amount of risk. That’s where his brother Tanner (Ben Foster) comes in. Tanner is an ex convict with a very happy trigger finger and lives for causing trouble.
The plan is simple. Rob several branches of Texas Midlands Band, the bank in which the reverse mortgage is being held, early in the morning when there aren’t any customers. They are to only take loose cash and only bills 20 dollars and under. They get what they can and take the money the get to a casino to cash it for chips and reverse it for a check made out to the bank. (Money from a casino is untraceable.) Despite everything going relatively smooth, Tanner takes unplanned unnecessary risks which infuriates Toby because he is messing with the lively-hood of his sons.
Their robberies don’t go as under the radar as they’d hoped. Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham) are the two Texas Rangers who are assigned to look into the cases. Hamilton is about to retire from the force, and wants one more good “hunt” before he gives it all up. Which explains why he is relentless to catch these boys. Hamilton is good at his job, and very good at poking fun at his partner Alberto. After he interviews a few of the people they encountered during their tirade; he is able to predict their next move.
This is when things start to go south for Toby and Tanner. They veer from the plan, no thanks to Tanner, and are forced to improvise after one of the banks they are trying to hit is closed. Their shift takes them to a Texas Midlands bank at lunch time with a whole bunch of people standing in line. Of course, we’re in Texas so everyone in the bank has as gun which means an unfortunate shoot out starts as they are about to leave the bank. They left three people shot/dead and Toby hit in the side, but they are forced on a wild chase followed by cars of locals trying to take them down, as well as the Texas Rangers.
I won’t tell you how it ends so I’ll just stop here, and you’ll have to watch it for yourselves. (It’s available for rent at Redbox now.) But I will say the acting was great for the script that they had. Jeff Bridges and Chris Pine were the gems of this film. Pine was subtle yet completely engrossed in the character that he made me believe that what he had to do was right. Jeff Bridges was comical and brilliant as only Jeff Bridges can be.
I also thought it was filmed extremely well. The tone of the film was captured in the beautiful wide shots of landscapes and close ups that captured each character. The sepia -esque color of each shot made the film look rustic like it should in a poor Texas town.
I will say though that this film was definitely not my favorite. (There always seems to be one.) Because it didn’t really hold my attention like an Oscar nominated film should. It didn’t seem to me to have a climax. They had to rob the banks to get money, they got the money, got chased a little bit and happily ever after. Maybe if I watched it again I would have a different feeling, but who knows. Watch it and tell me what you think.
*Click the movie title to watch the trailer.*