Bank robbers. Sadness. Landscapes. Intergenerational poverty.
BQB here with a review of Hell or High Water.
SPOILER ALERT – Be forewarned of spoilers.
Chris Pine and Ben Foster team up as brother bankrobbers Toby and Tanner Howard in a scheme to rob and screw over a Texas bank chain that screwed them.
However, despite Chris and Ben’s performances, the state of Texas is the star. Some great cinematography in this film where you, the viewer, end up feeling as though you’re practically driving through the Lone Star state yourself and able to look around the flat plains and see land for miles and miles in every direction.
We’re also taken into the world of poor southern life and poverty in general, how problems are passed from one generation to the next and it usually takes one generation to do something pretty drastic (bank robbery is definitely too drastic) to change the situation for the family’s future.
I don’t know what a good example of a drastic change would be to change a family’s financial future. Maybe inventing robot underpants or some great new gadget that sells well.
Sorry. That was out of left field. Moving on…
There are a lot of themes in this movie, as well as attempts to get viewers to pay attention to problems they may not be aware of.
For example, we see the blight and decay facing many poor Texan towns, communities that used to thrive around farming and ranching, now falling apart and losing population because there are few, if any, opportunities left due to corporate takeover of many of these industries.
The banking industry is the villain of the film as Toby and Tanner are put through enough crap in their lives that you end up sort of understanding (though not necessarily condoning) why they end up driven to a life of crime.
Hunting the brothers down are Texas rangers Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham.)
I won’t explain this well because I don’t know about how Texas lawmen are ranked but ultimately, Marcus is the head ranger, lamenting his upcoming retirement and Alberto is his second-in-command, slated to replace him as the boss.
They have this great buddy cop, love to pick on each other bromance that in my mind, may go down as one of the top (and most heartwarming) bromances in movie history.
Marcus makes mean, highly politically incorrect jokes about Alberto’s Mexican and Native American heritage. Alberto returns the favor by joking about how he can’t wait for Marcus to croak. There’s definitely love there.
And the thing about good writing is by the end of the movie, you find yourself hoping that some how everyone will win. You want the brothers to get away. You also want the rangers to catch them.
Fear not, I won’t tell you what happens.
Instead, what I will tell you is that some how, some way, and much to my surprise as an ugly rights advocate (note my many columns on the #OscarsSoPretty movement in which I demand that the Academy nominate more visually displeasing actors and actresses), Hollywood suits were prevented from filling up this film with good looking people.
Chris Pine is basically the only one in the film that could win a beauty contest. (I assume there’s a requirement that all movies must have at least one over the top good looking person in them.)
Now, I’m not dumping on the rest of the cast when it comes to looks. Ben Foster, for example, has built his career on playing psychos and true to form, he looks and comes off as one in this movie.
And Jeff Bridges looks good for an old dude and I can only assume he bagged his fair share of chicks when he was in his prime. Hell, for all I know maybe he still is.
I’m talking about the extras. Watch this movie and look at the bars, the casino, all the people who are either in the background or maybe have a line or two – many are ugly (or well, to put it in more PC language, “not traditionally good looking”).
Instead, many of them look haggard, broken down, depressed, like they’ve lived lifetimes of woe and misery as poor Texans and it shows on their faces.
I don’t know how they did it. Maybe they put out a casting call for people who look like all their dreams have failed. Surprised I didn’t get a CC on that memo.
But that’s not all. What really warmed the cockles of my heart was that hot and chubby actress Katy Mixon (you may know her as Mrs. Kenny Powers in Eastbound and Down) is featured as a love interest to Chris Pine. Chris friggin’ Pine.
Just…I mean…holy shit, people. I don’t think you understand how big this is for Hollywood.
A movie was made in which epically handsome stud muffin Chris Pine played a character that fancied a chubby woman.
Sure, they found the hottest chubby woman available but still, this is great progress for Hollywood.
CUE THE RE-ENACTMENT
HOLLYWOOD SUIT #1 – Sir, we need you to approve this film that features Chris Pine taking a romantic interest in a chubby woman.
HOLLYWOOD SUIT #2 – How fat are we talking here? Orca fat or had a little too much on Thanksgiving and could get rid of it with a few months at the gym fat?”
HOLLYWOOD SUIT #1 – The latter.
HOLLYWOOD SUIT #2 – How’s her face?
HOLLYWOOD SUIT #1 – Hot face. Hottest chubby chick we could find.
HOLLYWOOD SUIT #2 – Approved. Ugly rights advocate BQB will literally shit his pants in the theater when he sees this.
And I did. I feel bad for the movie theater clean up crew. Those aren’t milk duds.
It is now only a matter of time before they cast a hideous gargoyle like me as a love interest for Charlize Theron.
Eh…ok. We’re not quite there yet. Baby steps, Hollywood. Baby steps.
Be optimistic, ugly and/or chubby people. We will see ugly and or/chubby people doing it with good looking people on screen by the year 2050 now that the path towards ugly acceptance has been started by this film.
There are traces of Oscar worthiness in this film. If it were to be nominated as a Best Picture, I think that would be great. On the other hand, it was released kind of early. Most Oscar type movies are released at the end of the year.
So we’ll see. But even so, it is, IMO, the best movie I’ve seen in 2016 (at least when it comes to serious drama as opposed to comic book type movies) thus far.