In a summer full of disappointments and mediocrity, its fallen to the indie films to save the summer. Hell or High Water is another great indie to save the summer, a simple story that succeeds due to the exceptional performance and a lively, intelligent script. The film borrows more than a few elements from the Coen Brothers, namely the quirky characters, stark landscapes, dark humor, and bold color pallets, but it’s done with an intensity and simplicity that gives the film its own identity.
Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster) are two brothers planning a series of bank robberies across the south, planning to pay off an old debt and take personal vengeance on the banks that took over their community. Hot on their trail are Marcus (Jeff Bridges) and Alberto (Gil Birmingham), two bickering detectives determined to bring them to justice. Pine and Foster are incredible here, instantly believable as brothers and with a brilliant onscreen chemistry, with Pine giving some of his must subtle and nuanced performance to date, and Foster giving a wild and intense role.
In addition to the two leads, Jeff Bridges gives a hilarious side performance that mirrors many of his earlier works, and the film features a breakout role from Gil Birmingham as Bridges partner in the investigation. While the film’s plot is simple, it’s the level of commitment to the area culture that makes it feel so unique, and the cast’s strength that makes it powerful. It’s films like this that have saved the summer, and Hell or High Water has proven to be one of the films of the year. Grade: -A