Foster and Pine are a modern day Bonny and Clyde, robbing banks across West Texas in order to save the family ranch following their mother’s death. Pine exhibits the stardom we Trekkies have long recognised, while Jeff Bridges is great as the gruff old ranger on their tail. “Soccer – never could understand that,” he growls, “anything a five-year-old can do ain’t a sport.” But even he is stunned into silence by a surly waitress in one particularly funny scene.
The Bridges character echoes Brendan Gleeson’s in The Guard; an un-PC PC with hidden sensitivity, earning himself a Golden Globe nomination – which, given that Ryan Reynolds was also nominated for Deadpool, he really doesn’t deserve.
This is tonally similar to another Ryan Reynolds film, Mississippi Grind, with its stuck-in-time vibe and emphasis on character. Director David Mackenzie and writer Taylor Sheridan’s restrained use of gunplay elicits strong tension, because we believe in the deeply sympathetic characters involved.
A neo-Western/heist picture with timely political undercurrents, it has similarities to 2012’s Killing Them Softly, which hammered home its economic commentary by literally having TV reports about the financial crash on in the background of every scene. This treats its audience with far more intelligence, conveying those ideas with humour, pace and a typically foreboding score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.
With terseness, wit and a level of depth seldom seen in heist movies, Hell or High Water is probably the best Coen brothers film of 2016 – and they weren’t even involved.