Hell Or Highwater: When Sitting On Your Porch Always Keep A Gun To Hand

Written by Luke Barnes

Hell Or High Water is a neo-noir western film directed by David Mackenzie.  The plot sees two Texan brother (played by Chris Pine and Ben Foster), rob a series of banks to achieve a better life for themselves and their families. However, in there efforts to do this they come to the attention of Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges), and a game of cat and mouse begins.

I find the neo-noir aspects of this film fascinating; they merge so well with what you would consider a western to be and further the genre into something new- that honestly feels refreshing. I thought setting this in modern day, and having the film play on key contemporary society issues helped it to further its resonance and create more feelings from us towards the characters.

The performances from all three leads, (Bridges, Foster and Pine), are strong and help to anchor this film into believability. The writing also helps to layer the characters and have them transcend a simplistic good and bad character narrative, allowing for a greyer complexity where the ‘villain’ and the ‘hero’ can switch around mid-scene.

My one issue with the film however, and sadly it is a fairly major one, is that it suffers from bloat. The film is certainly overly long, as such certain scenes feel like they have been stretched out to pad for time, and often these scenes add nothing to the narrative as a whole.

Overall, a compelling cat and a mouse story, brought low by an overly indulgence

Pros.

The performances

The tension

The moral ambiguity

The combining of the western and the noir

Cons.

Bloated pacing at times

3.5/5

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