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Hell or High Water

Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster) are brothers who reunite after Tanner gets out of prison to rob banks. They only take what is in the drawer and small bills. The robberies have caught the attention of Marcus (Jeff Bridges), a sheriff nearing retirement who wants one last big case, and his partner Alberto (Gil Birmingham) who is half Comanche. This is truly a great contemporary, post-2008 housing bubble collapse western during which banks foreclosed on hundreds of thousands of homes and reverse mortgages were slick schemes by banks to gain ownership of property. The film is really funny and captures in a witty way elements of the current dialog around corporate bank greed, race relations, and open carry laws (yes, this Western is set in those sleepy towns in Texas).  The script is fantastic and reveals over time nuances of each of its main characters.  The film is carefully shot and beautiful to look at. The acting by everyone is superb, especially Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges (I wonder if Bridges will get an Oscar nomination out of this?). And oh my goodness, there are some very unusual characters that appear during the escapades (one, in particular, had me laughing really hard). The film also has a really great soundtrack. My aunt Jeannette and I saw this together; she really liked it but thought it a bit slow. So big thumbs up from here for a film that has nods to and holds its own against other great Westerns like No Country for Old Men and Bonnie and Clyde.  This film is solid entertainment and is definitely one of my favorites of the year so far.

About Gary Burkholder

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