Hell or High Water

Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine and Ben Foster star in Hell or High Water, a gripping crime drama from David Mackenzie

Film Review by Josh Slater-Williams | 02 Sep 2016
  • Hell or High Water
Film title: Hell or High Water
Director: David Mackenzie
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Gil Birmingham, Marin Ireland
Release date: 9 Sep
Certificate: 15

After a career high with prison drama Starred Up, Hell or High Water sees British director David Mackenzie venture away from incarcerated criminals in the UK to bank robbers on the run in West Texas. But while the usual cops and at least one convict are in play for a seemingly simple genre exercise, the colourful, humorous screenplay from Sicario scribe Taylor Sheridan has other things in mind, gradually sharpening its broad strokes and stereotypes for a sharp prod at the systemic forces driving the bad actions.

Its closest comparison might be Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly, which shares an anti-banks theme that’s by no means subtext in either. While Dominik’s film goes for righteous, blunt force fury, Mackenzie’s is wrapped up in more wistful explorations of how the system’s cruelty spreads through generations. Add to that some palpable evocation of the landscapes and desolate towns of Texas, a low-key, career best performance from Chris Pine, and exciting, precise action sequences, and you have one of the finest American crime films in quite some time.

Released by StudioCanal