Hell or High Water Review

Updated on January 16, 2017
Stevennix2001 profile image

Steven Escareno is an amateur film critic that writes about movies in his spare time.

Stevennix2001's Rating:

9.9 / 10


  • Acting was phenomenal; especially Chris Pine, who showed a dramatic acting range that I never would've believed was possible from him.
  • Cinematography was outstanding, as it captures the mood and tone of the film perfectly.
  • Script was great. Well written, with a lot of great social commentary about society.
  • Solid direction.


  • Although the most of movie flows at a decent pace, it still tends to drag a bit; especially at the beginning.

"I've Been Poor My Whole Life, Like a Disease Passing From Generation to Generation. But Not My Boys, Not Anymore."

How far would a man go to ensure his family's future? Is it truly wrong to steal from people that have wronged you in the past? Or is it far better to turn the other cheek? Hell or High Water is a gripping crime drama about a divorced father that decides to rob a series of banks, with his brother, who happens to be an ex convict. However, they're not out to rob just any bank. No, they target Midland banks specifically, but they never steal money from any of the employees, or the people that happen to be there.

Hell or Highwater isn't for the faint of heart, as it forces you to question the morality of life itself. Is it noble to provide for your family by any means necessary? Even if it means innocent people have to get hurt and/or die in the process? Do the ends justify the means? If a bank wrongs your family, then does that mean it's right to just allow them to get away with it? Is stealing from the people that stole from your family still considered a crime? These are some of the many questions this film dares to ask it's audience, and to be honest, they're worth asking. In today's era where big corporations constantly screw over the little guy, do we have a moral obligation to stand up for ourselves? Even if it means a high degree of risk and sacrifice for the greater good?

And what's considered good in today's society? Playing along like a puppet, while our corporate masters continue to screw us over? Or do we have a moral obligation to fight back for ourselves, and our offspring?

What I loved about this movie wasn't so much the questions it dares to ask it's audience, but how it never seems to glorify one side over the other. When you walk out of the film, you never feel like Chris Pine's character was in the wrong for doing what he did, but at the same time, you never want to condone what he did either.

While his character's intentions are always pure, the actions he takes to justify those intentions are often questionable at best, with severe consequences. People even die, during one of their robberies, which makes the climax all the more interesting because you're never quite sure how to feel about it.

It's an interesting, yet emotionally conflicting, story to say the least, and it'll definitely have you thinking deeply into it's social commentary about society.

Chris Pine does a wonderful job, as he manages to break away from playing his usual role of being the playboy smart a** tough guy, so he can play a man that's more of a lost soul trying to provide for his family. It's quite interesting to watch, and it makes you realize how much range he has an actor. Granted, he doesn't say much throughout most of the film, but he doesn't have to, as his presence and demeanor set the tone for his character.

While I would still love to see Chris Pine continue being Captain KIrk in the Star Trek franchise, I have to admit that Hell or Highwater makes me yearn to see him take on more roles like this. Ones that force him to break out of his comfort zone, and challenge himself into showing more of his range as an actor because if this film was any indication of what he's capable of, then I'd be anxious to see what he could do moving forward.

As for Jeff Bridges, I don't know why the guy sounds like he has a damn frog in his throat these days, with that heavy southern accent. He certainly didn't seem to have that back in his younger days, but it surprisingly works here considering it's setting. Most of the story takes place in various small towns, with a bit of a contemporary western setting, so it fits the narrative OK. Granted, I wouldn't say that Jeff gives any kind of Oscar caliber performance in this film, but he plays his part rather well, as the hard nosed foul mouth southern cop.

Granted, the film does drag a bit, but it's mostly a flawless piece of work that speaks eloquently to today's modern times. Definitely worth checking out if you're yearning to see a film that'll stick with you long after you see it.

© 2017 Steven Escareno


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