Hell Or High Water centres around Texan bank-robbing brothers Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner Howard (Ben Foster), going from one institution after another, in desperate need of cash after their mother dies and, thanks to the outstanding mortgage, her fiduciary issues are leading to the bank to foreclose on her entire ranch.
They’re just stealing a few thousands dollars each time, so don’t attract FBI interest, hence local close-to-retirement sheriff Marcus (Jeff Bridges) is called to look into it, along with partner Alberto (Gil Birmingham), who’s half-Indian, half-Mexican and 100% annoyed at his colleague’s constant derogatory references to his culture and lifestyle.
Toby has other things to deal with as he’s estranged from his children and rarely gets to see them, partly due to owing a ton of money in child support, but with strong violence on occasion and superb performances from all of the key cast members, this road trip may be set in the modern day, but it plays out like a stylish ’70s thriller.
There’s also plenty of brilliant dialogue. After visiting a petrol station, while driving off:
- Tanner: “Are you trying to make me mad? I said Dr Pepper. This is Mr Pibb.”
Toby: “That’s all they had.”
Tanner: “Only assholes drink Mr Pibb.”
Toby: “Drink up(!)”
In addition, check out the clip below, too.
Overall, Hell or High Water is a very strong and satisfying 102 minutes of entertainment.
The film is presented in the theatrical 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio and in 1080p high definition and looks as stunning as you’d expect from a modern movie, bringing the Texas desert and towns to life brilliantly.
The sound is in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and it’s mostly in the driving/action scenes where split-surround gives you something to remember.
The extras are as follows, beginning with three featurettes which feel like they’re part of one big ‘making-of’:
- Featurettes: First up is Damaged Heroes (12:22), going into the performances and how they needed both Pine and Foster to exude a strong connection as brothers, and as it turned out, they’d just finished working together for five months on The Finest Hours. Also, they kept to a small set and crew, so you can bring an intimacy into the filming that you don’t get on a big movie like Pine’s Star Trek Beyond, or as he refers to it in the final big extra, his “space film”.
After that comes Enemies Forever (13:35), looking at the characters and relationship between the two brothers, plus the locations in Visualising the Heart of America (9:26).
- Interview with director David Mackenzie (6:25): A Q&A interview where the “Q”s are all on silent captions, and then David gives the “A”s. These are generally made for channels like Sky Movies where they can slot them in as filler inbetween clips.
- Hell Or High Water Premiere (1:54): A blink-and-you’ll-miss-it piece from the red carpet in Austin, Texas.
- Filmmaker Q&A (29:51): But this is more like it. David McKenzie, Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Gil Birmingham are interviewed at the Arclight Cinerama Dome in Hollywood.
- Audio description: Does exactly what it says on the tin.
The menu mixes clips and music from the film, there are subtitles in English only, and a a bog-standard 12 chapters. I prefer one every 5 minutes, which would come to 20.
Running time: 102 minutes
Released: January 9th 2017
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (ARRIRAW (2.8K), Anamorphic Hawk Scope)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: David Mackenzie
Producers: Peter Berg, Carla Hacken, Sidney Kimmel and Julie Yorn
Screenplay: Taylor Sheridan
Music: Nick Cave and Warren Ellis
Toby Howard: Chris Pine
Tanner Howard: Ben Foster
Marcus Hamilton: Jeff Bridges
Alberto Parker: Gil Birmingham
Jenny Ann: Katy Mixon
Rancher: Keith Meriweather
Natalie Martinez (Vernon Teller): Amber Midthunder
T-Bone Waitress: Margaret Bowman
Mr. Clauson: William Sterchi
Elsie: Dale Dickey
Old Man: Buck Taylor
Olney Teller: Kristin Berg
Bank Manager: Joe Berryman
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.