Review: Hell or High Water (2016) – An Old School Western Through A Modern Lens

A new entry into the Western/Crime genre, my hopes for Hell or High Water (HOHW) were about as high as my anticipation for my annual rectal exam. Fortunately my closed mindedness was cast aside on watching this movie, and I can safely say that HOHW is one of the best cinematic experiences of 2016.


Set in the desert wilderness of West Texas, HOHW follows two bank robbing brothers (Chris Pine & Ben Foster) on their mission to raise enough money to pay off the mortgage on their family home. Pursuing them is Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges), a close to retirement Texas Ranger. With a colleague in tow, Hamilton must try to bring the increasingly reckless brothers to justice.

Though a well trodden genre, director David Mackenzie breathes new life into this story by making sure there is no true villain among the many larger than life characters. While each of the characters do stretch the bounds of morality (leap frogs over it in the case of Ben Foster’s character!); there’s always a sense of empathy and understanding in each of their actions.

As we see the struggles that the two brothers must overcome, it’s hard not to see HOHW as the perfect illustration of the difficulties that rural America have to face in a world that is increasingly leaving them behind. While I in no way think that the filmmakers are Donald Trump supporters, the fact that the filmmakers have managed to tap into this feeling of helplessness is to be commended.

With several gorgeous shots of the sweeping panoramic kind; mixed in with the more intimate bank robbery scenes, Cinematographer Giles Nuttgens has illustrated his skill magnificently and shows just how far he has come from his humble beginnings on Battlefield Earth. (Yes, THAT Battlefield Earth.)

While the performances behind the camera are to be applauded, its really the performances in front that elevate this film into award winning territory. The three above mentioned actors are brilliantly cast, each of them bringing a range of emotions and pathos to their roles. Even the supporting case warrant a mention with Gil Birmingham and his comedic chops rising to the top of the pack

Alongside Hacksaw Ridge, Hell for High Water is one of my top picks for awards glory.

Overall Score:


4 Replies to “Review: Hell or High Water (2016) – An Old School Western Through A Modern Lens”

  1. I’m interested to see that you gave Hell or Highwater 5 stars. I agreed with all your sentiments, yet I had nothing to say about the movie after seeing it. I just kind of went, “Huh, well that’s done.” And moved on with my life, without even writing a review on it – and this is coming from someone who rants and raves about all sorts of media for days after seeing it and runs review blog. I don’t get the sense that you were particularly enthused by the movie after reading your review. Did you feel the same? Or am I just overlooking a great piece of work? Would love to hear your thoughts.


    1. Hi Caitlin

      Great to hear from you. I admittedly went into HOHW with pretty low expectations. But they were blown out of the water when actually watching it. Cinematography, direction, acting. All of it amazing. However, you are right my review could have done a better job in getting across my excitement for it. I’ve only been writing reviews for 3 months, so the earlier ones are a little plain and not very well thought out!

      Liked by 1 person

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