Hell or High Water – Film Review

What’s it about?

Hell or High Water, a drama/thriller starring Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges, is about  two brothers committing a spate of bank robberies in order to save their debt ridden ancestral property.

    Set in West Texas, two brothers are told that their ancestral ranch will be seized by the bank unless they can cough up the mortgage amount within a stipulated time-frame. So they decide to rob various banks to raise this capital, but in the process manage to attract the attention of a retiring Texas Ranger. How they plan their heists, and try and stay one step ahead of the authorities is what the rest of the film is about.

What’s good?

Whatever little action is in the film is very realistic and has been shot well. The motivations of the various characters are captured mostly through dialogue and this works in the film’s favor. The film does raise certain questions about the American rural lifestyle that are worth pondering about. It also successfully manages to create some powerful dramatic moments especially between the two brothers. But more than anything, this film is mainly watchable because of its power packed performances.

The film is shot beautifully, capturing the rustic Texan landscape and creating the required atmosphere for this kind of story. Art direction is good.

What’s not?

The film is paced very slowly, and sometimes one feels their attention waiver. Also, this is a fairly straight forward film without many dramatic twists and turns, which can underwhelm certain section of film viewers.


All three principal characters are excellent in the film. Chris Pine gives a restrained performance in a role that is very different from the flashier blockbuster roles that he is known for. It is the first time that this writer has seen him immerse himself into a character. Jeff Bridges as the grizzled old cop on the trail of these two brothers is good. However he adopts a strange speech pattern that sounds more like mumbling, and some of the dialogue he mouths is unintelligible. Ben Foster, is deliciously wacky as the older brother. There were chances of this character being over the top, but he grounds the character in those moments, and this makes his performance great. Rest of the cast are all uniformly good in their respective roles.

Final Word

A slow burn drama/thriller that is watchable mainly for the performances.


3 / 5 star

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