Friday, March 3, 2017

Movie Review: Hell or High Water (2016)

Hell or High Water (2016) directed by David Mackenzie

Two brothers rob several branches of the Texas Midlands Bank but only take small amounts of money--bills under $50 and no packs of money. The thefts aren't big enough for the FBI to bother with, so the Texas Rangers (Jeff Bridges and his partner Gil Birmingham) are on the case. The robbers' unorthodox methods are motivated by their odd situation. Their mother (who passed away recently) has a reverse mortgage from Texas Midlands on the family ranch and foreclosure is eminent. Oil was discovered on the property but naturally the mortgage was not enough to start drilling. The bank is waiting to swoop in and swindle the family yet again. The plan is to get enough money to get the home out of jeopardy. Viewers are caught sympathizing with both the brothers and the Rangers as the story plays out.

Many cliches are touched on by the film (Jeff Bridges' character is about to retire and wants one more big case; everyone keeps saying bank robbers never get away with it; one waitress has a heart of gold; another waitress is ornerier than a rattlesnake; and so on) but the characters (both big and small) are so well-written and well-acted that they are real people in real situations. The importance of brotherhood and manhood are strong themes that give the movie a surprisingly powerful yet quiet ending. The movie raises interesting moral challenges on all sides and doesn't give the viewers pat answers, making the story very engaging and worthy of continued reflection and discussion.

Highly recommended!

The movie is the subject of the next discussion at A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast. Check it out!

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