Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Film No. 68 (2016) Hell or High Water November 5th.

Film No. 68 (2016) November 5th.  10.30 AM LUNA PALACE, Leederville. 

"All this was my ancestor's land, till these folk took it and now it's been taken from them, 'cept it ain't no army doin' it, it's those sons of bitches right there (pointing to a bank in the town's high street)" (Alberto summarizes the state of play historically in his home state of Texas)

It was hard to watch Hell or High Water and not reflect on the  dysfunctional political landscape surrounding this once great nation the U S of A. A scene late in the film depicts Toby and Tanner Howard (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) hurriedly rushing from a bank they'd just robbed into a hail of gunfire. Our immediate thought is the police had the bank surrounded; cut to local towns folk crouching behind their vehicles taking pot-shots. A bizarre scene but perhaps the norm in this remote Texas outpost.

Hell and High Water is an ironic comment on many aspects of life in contemporary U.S. society. It has all the ingredients of an old fashioned western. There are Toby and Tanner a couple of bank robbers with a humane edge. Then there's Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Geoff Bridges) and Mexican/Indian side-kick Alberto (Gil Birmingham) whose method it is to track these baddies "on foot" rather than via modern day methods using laptops or mobile phones. But there is a whole lot more to this film of simple themes.

Toby, the elder brother, has inherited the family property which possesses rich oil reserves. The bank holds the deeds and will foreclose if debts aren't paid within a strict timeframe. His only course of action is to steal from the bank keen to take over his property, or more importantly the property which is the inheritance of his children. The tension builds as Hamilton and Alberto track the brothers the old fashioned way; the bloodhound method. Each of the robberies by the brothers is more daring and violent than the last. Robin Hood, these guys ain't!  

The steamy, tense feel, coupled with the earthy soundtrack gives Hell and High Water the credibility it deserves. The relationships, key to ratifying the concluding scenes (e.g. the dysfunction in Toby's relationship with his ex-wife and kids) lack real development. The role of corporate banking and the irony of the brothers' quest wasn't fleshed out completely. But Geoff Bridges, Hamilton is all one would expect of this quality, character actor. The less he says, the harder it is to take our eyes off him. 9GUMS.        


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