Hell or High Water

“This ain’t your first time at this rodeo…” No…No, it is not. And if you don’t know the ending of this film within the first five minutes, well, then maybe it is… But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch it. This absolutely gorgeous modern day western set in economically collapsing West Texas follows two brothers as they rob banks to pay off the debts of one brother trying to find his git’ right while correcting economic wrongs. This film is perfectly evocative of the place and character of this unique culture and big sky country. Jeff Bridges turns in an exceptional performance as a grizzled Texas Ranger trying to catch up with our good ol’ boy bank robbers while badgering his long-suffering half-Mexican, half-Indian partner (played by Gil Birmingham) with make-the-left-blanch racist jokes. There’s not much new here, but it doesn’t really matter. The brotherly love is real between criminal-screw-up brother, played by Ben Foster, and try-to-finally-make-it-right brother, Chris Pine. There’s a sweep to it that is mildly reminiscent of Brokeback Mountain… sans cowboy sex. This film also tries to school urban, left, hip America about what’s really happening to “the rest of us” and why they’re pissed enough to vote for Trump… with only moderate success, but one of the greatest diner scenes in modern film, “What DON’T you want?!” snarled by 88-year-old actress Margaret Bowman makes you forget the weaker points. Including, and I love me some West Texas boys but…, some of the dialogue being lost if the viewers’ ear is unfamiliar with that beautiful drawl. Overall, nothing new here, but who cares? There’s a reason we LOVE this genre when it’s well done and ‘Hell Or High Water’ nails it.