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Hell Or High Water

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I recently cited The Infiltrator as an example of films that have a pronounced interest in finance, films that could be termed post-recession films. Many of these have been thrillers, mixing financial machinations with longer established generic elements, and Hell or High Water is another of these. David Mackenzie’s film of Taylor Sheridan’s script also incorporates aspects of the western into its heist thriller narrative, as Howard brothers Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster) commit very specific and careful robberies, while Texas Rangers Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham) perform a methodical investigation. Mackenzie’s borrowing from the western includes many wide-angled shots, shots that are sustained for long takes to capture prolonged action such as the brothers’ heists. Similarly, the Texas landscape and small, deteriorating towns express the liminal status of people caught between their ownership and what they owe to banks. Meanwhile, the film deploys the pleasures of the heist thriller through the execution of the robberies, both calculated and impulsive. Even the clichés of Hamilton approaching retirement and his constant insulting of his long-suffering partner are played as genuine rather than stereotypical. By marshaling these various generic elements with an absorbing and gripping visual style, Mackenzie has crafted an intelligent and effective thriller, as Hell or High Water imbues familiar film elements with a sober real world dimension.

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5 Comments

  1. […] Fences Hacksaw Ridge Hell or High Water Hidden Figures La La Land Lion Manchester by the Sea […]

  2. […] an Actor in a Supporting Role is trickier, as we have a varied bunch of nominees. Jeff Bridges in Hell or High Water is the only previous winner (for Best Actor in a Leading Role in Crazy Heart), he is the oldest of […]

  3. […] Sheridan is a very fine writer. His previous works Sicario and Hell Or High Water beautifully captured the drama of people caught between social and historical developments. Much […]

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