The Movie: 10/10
This is one of the best movies I have seen in a very long time. I have tried to dig up any flaws or moments when I was not fully engaged with the story and characters, but there are none. That’s what brings out the 10 out of 10 in me. I just can’t see a way to make it better. So, why is it so good? It’s everything that makes a film the kind of story telling that I love. The story is compelling, if not a bit familiar. I can forgive the lack of originality though, when a story is told so well. We meet two brothers on a bank robbing rampage with an aging Texas Ranger on their trail. The motivations and choices and events that take place are sewn into a quilt of “the human condition”, as it were. I know that sounds corny, but sometimes when we examine the tales we tell each other about other people, we have to accept that this is what we are doing. Sometimes we tell stories about magical and supernatural forces, or about far-flung future adventures, but still we pit all the odds against us humans, or humanoid or human-like creatures. Why do we do it? I’m not sure exactly. However, sometimes when you experience a story like Hell or High Water, a journey through a crumbling small town America and the challenges folks face because of a changing economy, you might see the world through someone else’s eyes and find some empathy or sympathy, even if they are fiction.
Most people will see a reflection of who they are, the choices they would make, or someone they know in the characters of Hell or High Water. I might not make the same choices, but because the story is told so well by such great performances, I “get it”. I don’t condone a lot of the behaviors and decisions, but I find while I’m immersed in such a well made movie I am along for the ride and those manufactured emotions we all get with fictional entertainment crawl a little bit deeper. When little animated Anna sings “It doesn’t have to be a snowman” to big ice queen sister Elsa, we don’t have to identify with being a fictional animated character, but we somehow understand that tiny glimpse of unrequited love for another person and how hard we would try to get it back. Watching some criminals terrorize people, a cop who pulls a lot of politically incorrect strings in his Native American partner, these don’t sound like sympathetic characters, but it’s done so beautifully and I got so involved in the outcome for everyone, I found myself understanding their choices, even if I didn’t approve.
All that along with an honest look at the plight of small towns in American, and probably in the whole world, is hypnotic. I’m from a small town area that has come to the same state as those in the movie so it made even more of an impact.
I don’t think I can say enough good things about this movie, so my review might be a bit biased:) The cast is amazing, every single one of them. Gil Birmingham was my favorite, but everyone is excellent. The guts of who their characters are comes through either overtly and loudly or quietly and subtly.
My favorite part of the whole movie comes later on, near the end. It’s poignant and amazing and makes me glad to be a movie lover. Overall I would recommend this to anyone who appreciates a good story and wants to be left with something to think about.
- Enemies Forever (14 Minutes) – Lots of interviews with the cast and crew.
- Visualizing The Heart Of America (10 Minutes) – Focusing on the location work. Fun fact this film was set in Texas but not filmed in Texas.
- Damaged Heroes (13 Minutes) – Looks at each actor and what they brought to the film in terms of performance.
- Red Carpet Premiere (2 Minutes) – Trailer for the film with very brief interviews from the red carpet.
- Filmmaker Q&A (30 Minutes) – A 30 minute Q&A from the Los Angeles screening of the film. Mackenzie, Bridges, Pine and Birmingham are in attendance.
- DVD & UV Digital Copy
Cover Art and Menus: 5/10
The cover doesn’t matter on this one, but it is super boring and looks like a TV movie of the week, but it’s fine. I would have it as a poster just because I love the movie so much.
Audio & Video: 8/10
Filmed digitally using the Arri Alexa XT Hell Or High Water is an impressive looking movie that showcases some top-notch cinematography from Giles Nuttgens. Most of the film takes place in the dusty landscape of Texas and dust is usually a nightmare for the avc codec, here though it performs admirably with no instances of ringing or banding in the picture. Close up detail is breathtaking and black levels are inky and deep.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is quite energetic with music from Nick Cave really adding to the atmosphere of the piece. Gunfire and cars sound realistic and dialog is well prioritized and central in the soundmix.
Overall Score 10/10