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Hell or High Water (5/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 102 minutes.

Not for children.

This story is a shining example of how bad movies have been this year. Itís got a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. So far Iíve only seen two really good movies this year, Eye in the Sky and Our Kind of Traitor. This one doesnít come close to measuring up to those two.

This is a mediocre story of two brothers, Tanner and Toby Howard (Ben Foster and Chris Pine, respectively), who are robbing banks for an ostensibly good purpose. They are pursued by two Texas Rangers, Marcus and Alberto (Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham, respectively).

While thereís some good action while the brothers are holding up the banks, this film is mostly conversation between Tanner and Toby, on the one hand, and Marcus and Alberto, on the other. Compelling is not the word for which I would be groping.

Even though itís only 102 minutes long I was looking at my watch constantly. While itís supposed to be a commentary on present day Texas and the Texas Rangers, it was shot totally in New Mexico. I guess they couldnít find a location in Texas that looked like Texas. But to be fair, they only had 268,820 square miles from which to choose.

Maybe I'm in the minority, but Iím getting a little tired of Bridgesí drawling accent. I did think that Chris Pine and Foster gave good performances and the cinematography (Giles Nuttgens) is excellent. Director David Mackenzie has some good action scenes during the bank robberies and the car chases. But to call this one of the best of the year is truly damning with faint praise. I was disappointed but maybe if I had seen it when it first came out and before all the hoopla I would have been more impressed. When you go into a film with a preconceived notion, often your reaction is more negative than if you had seen it cold, which is why I like to see films without knowing much, if anything, about them.