There are kings who never die, in both world history and cinema. Western, or the Western franchise, is such a king. Reaching golden age and fading at the dawn of cinema, but the spirit of the Far West lives on, taking refuge in the genre called Neo-Western. And 10 years after No Country for Old Man (No Land for Old Men, 2006), Hell or High Water is enough to make anyone who loves Neo-Western to be proud.
“Come hell or high water” is an English expression that means “trying hard to get something done, no matter how difficult”. But it also relates to a banking term, “hell or high water clause”, which is obligatory debt to be paid, under all circumstances. Both of these meanings make Hell or Hight Water the perfect title for director David Mackenzie’s film. An unforgettable chase through the land of Texas that is immense smog, containing the humor, satire, masculinity of true cowboy spirit, along with the values of brotherhood, salvation and the price. putting in a deep and plump scenario.
The film begins with a morning at the Midlands Bank, west of Texas. Two robbers blindfolded Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster), also two siblings, attacked an old lady cashier to steal money. She, as stiff as the man in Texas, says that only her boss holds the keys. Toby wanted to retreat while Tanner stood determinedly waiting. Finally he arrived, and barely said “Good morning” to the two bandits before he was knocked out, in a comical Coens-style scene. When he got back to the car, Tanner showed an amused and excited expression, while Toby’s brother was annoyed by the needless risk.
That’s how writer Taylor Sheridan, best known for Sicario (Boundary, 2015), tells viewers the difference between the two brothers. Toby, with his gaze always on the ground, was tormented by guilt. He is the planner to plunder, to keep the house about to be forcibly taken by the bank. Meanwhile, Tanner, always proved dynamic and adventurous. A wealth of detail and psychological solidity is evident from the very first minute. The same goes for the hunters, as the old detective duo Marcus (Jeff Bridges) and Alberto (Gil Birmingham). Marcus is about to retire, and Alberto is a discontented Indian. Dripping beer and quarreling was their pastime on the way to catch two rats gouging through the banks.
Hell or High Water fully contains what we love in a Western film, regardless of the modern setting. A classic cat-and-mouse story at a Texas mecca, with dramatic chases and gunfights, a breeze in David Mackenzie’s frames, and playful music from cowboy guitarists’ barrel guitars. Another option is to replace the horse’s back with a box driver. One can smell the ambiance of classic Westerns wafting from the movie, the scent of burnt grass and brandy, and gunfire. This is the surprising achievement of Mackenzie, which is known through romantic dramas like Perfect Sense (Perfect Sense, 2011) or You Instead (Be You, 2011). When watching High Water, it seems unbelievable that his hometown was in Scotland, not Texas.
And the Texas in the movie is as Texas as it should be. There is a fullness of background, to the attentive and understanding narrative of both Mackenzie and screenwriter Sheridan. Right from the beginning of the movie, there is an old woman who is not afraid of two rampant bandits, even when threatened. Later, when asked by Halmiton about the skin color of the bandits, white or black, she retorted sarcastically: “Do you mean their skin color or their soul?” Another old lady at the restaurant cursed customers for daring to order the food against her. An old man happened to be at the bank, ready to open fire and shoot back the bandits, similar to the young people in the area. That is why the people here are identified with the cactus, the thorns already flowing in their blood. When the two detectives asked about the identity of the bandits, everyone laughed and described: “They look like cowboys.” Who is not here?
Referring to cowboys, is referring to their most obvious characteristic: Manly quality. Every guy who appears in the movie radiates the fiery masculinity of bulls. There was a very good conversation in the Indian casino, when the Toby brothers and Tanner came to launder the money. Tanner showed a challenge to a card player, and he immediately started a fight. “I’m a Comanche man. You know what it means, it’s ‘an enemy of all’! ” “And you know what I’m made of,” said Tanner. By blood Comanche. ” The two stopped there, knowing they were the same. If it continued, it would be a gunfight and death.
The most cowboy man in the movie, though, isn’t Tanner. He is not afraid of death, but not brave. Killing for pleasure, and leisurely accepting death as part of the game, is not brave. Remember, why the characters of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood always conquer our hearts. Because there is the softest of a man in them, and also the most commendable spirit in the dusty West: Sacrifice everything for the family.
Chris Pine’s appearance and acting ability reminds me quite a bit from early Brat Pitt. Both have the beauty and wild temperament of old America. But if Pitt belonged to the vast northern jungle in Legends of the Fall (Legend of Fall, 1994), then Pine is the son of the western dusty road with High Water. If Pitt belongs to the vast, free, steppe winds, Pine is tied to the ground and family responsibility. Toby is not only the best role in Pine’s career, up to now, but also the most suitable role. His deep blue eyes were filled with the tragedy of the Toby family.
High Water also saw the return of the most respected cowboy of all cowboys, Jeff Bridges. As Halmiton, people once again understood why he became the national treasure of America. In the movie, we enjoy Bridges drinking wine and gossiping about everything in the world like an old friend. Halmiton is also an old hand, successful in detective career thanks to the ability to think like criminals. He did not chase after the bandits, but waited for them to come, because he understood them. But the robbery of Toby and Tanner was beyond his grasp, because Toby was no ordinary criminal. The final scene, during the first meeting between Toby and Halmiton, has a depth that is rarely seen in even the best Far West films.
Hell or High Water deserves one of the best movies of 2016. A movie with all the colors of good, evil, and evil in the journeys of the West. Director David Mackenzie’s success is to make us understand, enjoy watching and cherish all the characters. Either way, they are just children born and belonging to Texas, a land where the legal or moral line is in everyone’s heart. And the real man, daring to choose and pay the price for the side he stands for.