Director: David Mackenzie
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster
Release Date: November 22, 2016
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 10/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
When a desperate father (Pine) learns that the bank is going to take his family’s land, he and his ex-con brother (Foster) are left with no choice. They decide to rob the bank’s branches, putting themselves in the crosshairs of an aging Texas Ranger (Bridges) in a riveting story of crime, punishment, and brotherly love.
‘Hell or High Water’ tells the story of Toby Howard (Pine), a struggling and generally good father who after the loss of his mother is about to lose everything he’s known and intended to leave to his own children as a result of the local bank’s intervention. Desperate to reclaim what is rightfully his by any means necessary, Toby sets out with the assistance of his ex-convict brother Tanner (Foster) on a mission to safely rob numerous banks during quiet hours in order to acquire the amount needed to keep their family home. Meanwhile, a soon to be retired Texas Ranger named Marcus Hamilton (Bridges) becomes intrigued by the case and sets off with his partner on one final adventure, determined to take down the duo causing so much havoc before he leaves the life of a Ranger behind once and for all.
Directed by David Mackenzie (Starred Up) from a screenplay penned by Taylor Sheridan (Sicario), Mackenzie does a flawless job at the helm of ‘Hell or High Water’ perfectly balancing the heart and tension while always complimenting each sequence with stunning scenery that is a beauty to behold in itself. The film also owes a tremendous amount of credit to the incredibly talented individuals who comprise the cast and manage to really escalate ‘Hell or High Water’ to perfection including Jeff Bridges (The Big Lebowski), Chris Pine (Star Trek), Ben Foster (The Finest Hours), Gil Birmingham (TV’s Banshee), and more, each delivering noteworthy performances in their respective roles.
‘Hell or High Water’ is an absolutely phenomenal piece of filmmaking and one of those rare cinematic events that delivers a heartfelt, beautiful and undeniably real exploration of some incredibly human characters. It’s no simple task to cause the viewer to remain unable to choose a side as even the questionable actions of the supposed bad guys feel largely justified in their own right, and ‘Hell or High Water’ pulls it off without a hitch, allowing us to become intimately familiar and identify with the players on both sides of the law as they remain at ends and maintain their own beliefs and reasoning for their actions. The film also provides plenty of humor, heart and tension as it excels along its course, capturing the natural beauty of the Texas landscape and never faltering in the slightest as it builds to a powerful and suitably action packed conclusion. Guided with perfection by talented director David Mackenzie and further complimented by a tremendous cast including outstanding performances by Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine and Ben Foster that are a marvel to behold alone. ‘Hell or High Water’ is easily one of the very best films of the year so far and one masterful piece of filmmaking that any fan of the film’s talented director, writer and cast, or simply quality cinema itself will not dare to miss out on.
Overall, ‘Hell or High Water’ is simply phenomenal; a true modern masterpiece that captures a gorgeous, painful and incredibly human tale with unique and relatable characters on both sides of the conflict that will leave viewers uncertain who to root for when the bullets begin to fly. Director David Mackenzie delivers a marvelous film from a fantastic screenplay by Taylor Sheridan that is boosted to perfection by the talented cast who deliver remarkable performances across the board. I cannot possibly recommend ‘Hell or High Water’ highly enough; it’s a truly magnificent film in every possible way and well worth the cost of a rental at the absolute least.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Hell or High Water’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks fantastic and delivers a sharp, detailed and bright presentation from start to finish with no notable faults to be found within. It perfectly captures the vibrant yellow tones of the empty Texas locations and holds up admirably even during the darkly lit and/or fast moving sequences, never resulting in anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a wonderful high definition video presentation complimented by a more than sufficient bitrate that should easily please.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack provides a clean, crisp and occasionally quite hard hitting audio presentation throughout. Utilizing all five available channels in order to send the perfectly fitting music, in addition to some bullets and rumbling cars (which also provide a nice workout for the subwoofer in a few instances), plus more making their way throughout the various speakers, yet never causing any dialogue which may be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible. Overall, this is a solid 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that delivers in every way required of it and provides a welcome compliment to the overall viewing experience.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Hell or High Water’ includes some notable extras. Included on the release are a few behind the scenes Featurettes that include behind the scenes footage, interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus more. The included Featurettes are: ‘Enemies Forever: The Characters of Hell or High Water’ (running approximately 14 minutes in length), ‘Visualizing the Heart of America’ (running approximately 9 minutes), and ‘Damaged Heroes: The Performances of Hell or High Water’ (approximately 12 minutes). A ‘Cast and Crew Q&A’ (running approximately 30 minutes), and a peek at the ‘Red Carpet Premiere’ (approximately 2 minutes) are also included.