“Hell or High Water” Movie Review by Mark Holtje
This is a review of the 2016 movie “Hell or High Water” Directed by David McKenzie.
If I could describe this movie as a song, it would be “When the Levee Breaks” — not because of the overt bluesy or Western feel, but because this movie tests how society reacts to corruption. In this case, two brothers commit several robberies to provide for their families. I don’t really need to mention this, but with all Westerns comes a great Texas-like scenery that instantly makes you feel invested in the plot of the movie. The older brother, played by Ben Foster, is the reckless one, while Chris Pine’s character is more calculative. It’s a battle of siblings, essentially.
During the film, two police officers are tasked with searching for the two bank robbers. One officer is a near-retired sheriff who is no-nonsense, while the other is more relaxed. Their chemistry is quite powerful, since they bounce off of each other, the older sheriff saying sarcastic and blatantly racist remarks to his Native-American (North and South) partner, which only frustrates the partner. The dialogue between the brothers, and between the two police officers, is what makes this movie so remarkable. As the movie progresses, it evolves from a simple bank robber movie into something far more intricate. The movie starts to take the side of the bank robbers.
How? Well, there is a dialogue between the two officers where the older officer exclaims that the two robbers have no motive other than to get money for their family, which is what anyone would do. The Native American officer then responds by saying that the “white man” has taken the land of the natives, and now the banks have taken the money away from the “white man”, and now they know what it’s like to feel like society wants you downtrodden. Although it’s crazy to think that justifying bank robberies should be normal, you start to understand the perspective of the bank robbers, and actually empathize with their struggle of poverty.
Towards the end of the film, there is an epic standoff between the older robber and 20 cops, and it is a sight to see. One scene in particular is so noteworthy and creative that I watched it ten times. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but it is very tense, and no party truly wins. It’s a standoff that is implied to happen after the credits roll. Cue the song “Outlaw State of Mind” because I know you’ll be sitting there speechless once the credits roll and that song gets stuck in your head.
The above mentioned article has been provided by Mark Holtje; a New York based college undergraduate senior, interested in the fields of Cyber Security and data communications. Networking, cloud computing, big data, machine learning in the fields of life sciences, fintech, and urban planning are just a few of Holtje’s areas of passion. He is an ethics-oriented, multicultural/bilingual, and results-driven student.