‘Hell Or High Water’ Receives Glowing Reviews As A Present Day Western Movie With Cowboys, Native Americans And Bank Robbers

Hell or High Water, starring Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, and Ben Foster promises to be the must-see movie of the year. At least that is what the all the critics are promising. It is very rare to see great reviews almost unanimously from critics. The majority of moviegoers also gave the film a good report, even though the box office is not showing an overwhelming profit yet.

Jeff Bridges stars as a tough and savvy Texas Ranger with a good sense of humor. The Ranger is dealing with an aging body and an impending retirement he’s just not quite ready for. Thankfully he is faced with a spree of bank robberies that keep him on the job.

Set in present day West Texas, Hell or High Water deals with contemporary issues like mortgage foreclosures and the overwhelming need for fast money. It also has features typical of old west scenarios like bank robbery, ranches, cowboys and Native Americans.

Hell or High Water is getting high marks even from Rotten Tomatoes. The vegetable throwing reviewers gave the potential classic a nearly unprecedented score of 98 percent. They are not alone either. The western earned an 88 on Metacritic, amid many very nice reviews. It is difficult to find a single review of this movie that is not positively glowing. Variety’s Owen Gleiberman offered high praise as well and is quoted on Metacritic.

“Hell or High Water is a thrillingly good movie — a crackerjack drama of crime, fear, and brotherly love set in a sun-roasted, deceptively sleepy West Texas that feels completely exotic for being so authentic.”

Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, and Ben Foster are the main reason the film is so great, according to Film School Rejects. As with all great films, the movie is equal parts humorous, tragic and dark. The characters have depth and are very well developed. Great actors are required to make a film like that work, and these three stars offer that in spades.

Chris Pine [Photo by Frazer Harrison r Chris Pine [Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]This present day western has impressed CBS News reviewer David Edelstein in a profound way. Edelstein has nothing but praise for the director, producer and cast for a job well done. He is convinced this film has the potential for greatness.

Hell or High Water is the best movie I’ve seen all year — all last year, too. It’s still haunting me… The movie has a starkness, a terrible clarity that eats into your mind. It’s a new classic Western.”

While Jeff Bridges’ Texas Ranger portrayal is a white hat kind of role, the bank robbers are not shown to be terribly bad apples either. One unique perspective this contemporary classic seems to offer is the view that while the cops and robbers are pitted against one another, neither are truly the villains. The true villain of this western is the bank itself. Traditionally the bank is victimized in robberies, but this film portrays the modern day view of greedy banksters and their role in foreclosures.

Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Gil Birmingham, Jeff Bridges by Frazer Harrison c Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Gil Birmingham, Jeff Bridges [Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]If Hell or High Water had a downside, it is the nearly perpetual commentary on the woes of this century, which at least one reviewer found overplayed. Though the Film School Rejects reviewer obviously liked the modern western a lot, he does complain about the overarching themes and contemporary social commentary, but says the acting makes up for it. His review is critical on that point.

“The half Indian, half Mexican Alberto making an observation on the world before him — whites arrived and stole the land from the native people, and now the whites are having their land stolen by the banks. It’s yet another repetition of the film’s smothering theme, but Birmingham delivers it with a perfect pairing of rage and resignation.”

Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, and Ben Foster are in some ways very timeless in their portrayal of western life. They are twenty-first-century cowboys, trying to survive in a world gone cold. Specific time frame references to the twenty-first century and its hardships would hardly deprive the fantastic flick of classic status.

Hell or High Water could have taken place at many different points in history, though the script does not acknowledge that. Economic hardship, foreclosure, unemployment and recession are not specifically relegated to this century. Similar situations and worse occurred in the post civil war era, during the great depression, and at many other points in time, including the 1980s. The movie could easily achieve the status of a classic western, with timeless appeal, despite the references to a specific time frame.

Hell or High Water, starring Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, and Ben Foster, is said to be one of the best movies of 2016.

[Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]