Hell or High Water contains what we love in a Far West movie, despite the modern context. A classic cat-and-mouse game in Texas, with dramatic chase and gunfire, David Mackenzie’s dreamy scenes, and cowboy music. The other is to replace the horse in the car.
We can smell the atmosphere of the classic “Western” characteristic subtle in this movie, the smell of fire and alcohol, and smoke. This is Mackenzie’s amazing achievement, which is best known for romantic psychological films such as Perfect Sense (2011) or You Instead (2011). When watching High Water, it’s hard to believe that his hometown is in Scotland, not Texas.
And Texas in the film is exactly Texas as it should be. There is a fullness of background, to the care and understanding of both Mackenzie and Sheridan. From the beginning of the film, there was an old woman who was not afraid of the two robbers, even when threatened. Then, when asked by Halmiton about the skin color of black or white bandits, she sat back and laughed: “Do you mean skin or soul?” Another old woman in the restaurant was cursing customers for daring. Order dish in her opinion. An old man happened to be at the bank, ready to shoot back the bandits, similar to the youth in the area. That is why the people here are identical with the cactus, the thorn is flowing in their blood. When the two detectives asked about bandits identity, everyone laughed and described: “They look like cowboys.” Who here is not?
Speaking of cowboys, is their most prominent feature: Men. Every male appearing in the film exudes the masculine temperament of gaur. There is a good dialogue in the Indian casino, when Toby and Tanner brothers come to launder money. Tanner challenged one of the card players, and he immediately took matters into his own hands. “I am Comanche. You know what it means, ‘enemies with all’! “Tanner responds,” Do you know what I’m made of? With Comanche blood. “They both stopped there, knowing that they were the same. If it continues, it will be a gunfight and the dead.
Still, the most cowardly man in the film, not Tanner. He is not afraid of death, but not frivolous. Killing for pleasure, and leisurely accept death as part of the game, is not bold. Remember, the characters of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood always conquer our hearts. Because there is the softness of a man in them, and also the most lauded spirit in the West of dust: sacrifice all for the family.
Chris Pine’s looks and acting skills are reminiscent of Pitt’s early days. Both have the beauty and temperament of America’s wilderness in the old days. But if Pitt belonged to the vast northern mountains of Legends of the Fall, Pine was the son of the western dusty winds of High Water. If Pitt belonged to the raw, freeze draft, Pine was tied to the ground and responsible for the family. Toby is not only the best actress in Pine’s career, up to this point, but also the most suitable role. His deep blue eyes and deep hunk are filled with the tragedy of the Toby family.
High Water also witnessed the return of the most respected cowboy in all cowboys, Jeff Bridges. As Halmiton, people once again understand why he became the national security of the United States. In the movie, we enjoy Bridges nibbling and chattering about everything in life as an old friend. Halmiton is also an old hand, succeeding in detective work because of the ability to think like crime. He did not pursue the bandits, but waited for them, because they understood them. But Toby and Tanner’s robbery is beyond his ability, because Toby is not a common criminal. The last scene, during Toby’s first encounter with Halmiton, has a rare depth even in the best Western movies.
Hell or High Water deserves to be one of the best films of 2016. A movie is full of good, evil and evil in the Far West. The success of director David Mackenzie is to make us understand, enjoy watching and cherish all the characters. No matter what, they are just children born to Texas and the land where the legal or moral boundaries lie in the heart of everyone. And the real man, dare to choose and pay the price for his side.