David Mackenzie's HELL OR HIGH WATER
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
This entertaining little film has the making of a classic but somehow just misses the mark. The plot is unremarkable but the character performances are universally excellent, especially Chris Pine as the "smart" half of the two-brother bank robbing team.
Jeff Bridges is wonderful -- as usual -- as the old cop who wisecracks throughout the movie but when push comes to shove is canny and all business. Just watch him with a rifle at the end.
There's something missing here and I'm not sure what it is. Perhaps it's the cinematography. It's flat and uninspiring. Texas and Oklahoma as presented here [it was filmed in New Mexico] are dry and windswept, studded with rusting machinery, DEBT CONSOLIDATION signs, and no trees.
I suspect that the physical environment could have been a much more significant character than is the case. On the other hand, the many small parts are wonderfully handled, with the women especially straddling desperation and pathos.
Much is being made critically of how realistic this movie is in portraying the people and parts of America left behind as the economy has moved on. I suppose so. But THE GRAPES OF WRATH this is not. Perhaps it should have been shot instead in black-and-white? But just as it is this movie is definitely worth seeing.
Review copyright (c) 2016 by Dennis D. McDonald