Hell or High Water

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I am a sucker for a good, modern-day western. Hell or High Water, however, is simply mediocre.

The plot is excruciatingly dull. Tanner (Ben Foster) and Toby (Chris Pine) need to rob banks to steal money to pay off the old farmhouse so that Toby can give it to his family… or something? And I guess paying the bank off with their own money would make it more interesting? I don’t know. It’s never even clear who planned this whole fiasco.

The characters aren’t much better. Tanner and Toby are cardboard cutouts painted with stereotypes. Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) is nothing more than a rehash of every sheriff in every Western ever filmed. Except with more mumbling. The only remotely interesting character was Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham), and he is criminally underdeveloped and underutilized.

Speaking of Alberto – his death is unearned and feels cruel. Maybe that was the intention, but it leaves the viewer with a bad taste. The fact that Marcus, who spent the entire movie mumbling racist jokes at his good-natured partner, hardly even seems phased makes the circumstance even worse.

The best part of Hell or High Water is the commentary on the changing way of life and how that affects people in the poorer parts of the United States. Toby has an excellent quote towards the end of the movie about how being poor is like a disease, and it infects and corrupts generations of people.

Overall, Hell or High Water is a film with good ideas and intentions but, ultimately, falls flat on the execution and presentation.

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