, ,

WARNING — There are potential spoilers here regarding the film “Hell or High Water” and if you want to see the film and not know any sort of detail, I suggest you pick out another of my postings to read or what I like to call, “The best of ‘As The D.J. Turns.'”

I will admit that I am so sort of a film weenie. I like movies with characters that can be liked and endings that are happy or at the very least are unpredictable. I go to the movies to be entertained and uplifted. If I want darkness, I’ll watch television news.
But I was intrigued by “Hell or High Water” when its teaser ran in the coming attractions of a movie I saw earlier this summer.
It tells an important story. That story is the current state of the American economy is good for some and just lousy for others.
Brothers Toby Howard (Chris Pine) and Tanner Howard (Ben Foster) have known nothing but hard times since they were young. However, their current state of affairs is especially rough. The bank will foreclose on the family ranch in West Texas if back property taxes and the mortgage are not paid up by a certain day.
They are not the only ones hurting. Throughout “Hell or High Water”, we see towns with plenty of boarded up buildings and for sale signs.
Toby and Tanner go on a bank robbery spree to come up with the money. Tanner is definitely the most violent of the two. He was recently released from prison and wants to save the ranch. But he wants to raise some hell too. The reason he went to prison is important, but I don’t want to spoil this crucial detail.
Toby is a man trying to right the wrongs he has done. He wants to save the ranch and sell it for the oil rights and give his sons the life he never had. He is not a criminal. He’s just a desperate man.
“Hell or High Water”, directed by David Mackenzie and written by Taylor Sheridan, is a solid story. Now others might have a different reaction, but at a certain point in the film, way too early, I just knew it wasn’t going to end well for Tanner. And it didn’t.
And at the same point, I sensed, again way too early, it was going to work out for Toby. And even though Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) later comes to the saved ranch at the film’s conclusion and vows to get Toby even though Hamilton is now retired, circumstances that you will see in the movie will give, at least to me, the strong impression that Toby is free and clear.
No acting performances stand out, but they are solid especially Pine’s. His Toby is a man of desperation and quiet determination to make things right for those he has wronged.
I hope that Giles Nuttgens is on the nominee list this coming February for best cinematography at the Oscars. The story is set in West Texas, but a published report said the movie was filmed in New Mexico.
His work makes the desolation of the area and the towns in it more pronounced than it already is and that I think that adds to the desperation of the characters.

RATING — ** and 1/2 stars