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"Hell or High Water" Review

LightsCameraJackson LightsCameraJackson Critic "Hell or High Water" has a very simple premise: a couple of bank-robbing brothers are looking to rob more banks so they can pay-off...the bank - and save the family ranch. A sheriff on the verge of retirement and his longtime partner are out to catch them.

Complete with his Texas "True Grit" twang, Jeff Bridges plays that elderly sheriff, Marcus Hamilton. His targets: Toby and Tanner Howard (Chris Pine and Ben Foster, who also braved violent ocean waves together in "The Finest Hours" earlier this year). The Howards aren't looking to hit the biggest banks, and they aren't gunning for the largest wads of cash. They have a specific plan: modest "withdrawals" from several branches of the same bank - and the money quickly adds up.

Hamilton thinks he's figured out the boys' plan, and he makes tracking them down his final mission. His Native American partner (played by Gil Birmingham from "The Twilight Saga") believes Hamilton is using this case to hold-off retirement a little bit longer.

All four central characters have positive characteristics and nearly just as many flaws. This conflict in values is one of the strengths of "Hell or High Water", as it challenges you to decide who, exactly, you should be rooting for. Actually, the real enemy in this tragic saga isn't revealed until very late in the film. Screenwriter Taylor Sheridan ("Sicario") has crafted a solid, modern day Western heist movie, that definitely holds your interest. However, the ultimate resolution is underwhelming.

The actual bank robbery scenes are well-staged and nerve-wracking to watch, and the performances, with Bridges leading the way, are noteworthy. Katy Mixon ("Mike & Molly") has a small role as a waitress who, in one of the movie's best scenes, squares-off with the Oscar winner and takes him down (no gun necessary).

There's a lot to like about "Hell or High Water", and enough meat on the bone to warrant a recommendation. I just wish there was one unique twist, or another interesting layer, to complicate things a bit. Once it becomes clear where this story is headed, you realize that's it's not going to end well - for anybody.

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