Hell or High Water

A David Macken­zie film. In eng­lish with ger­man sub­tit­les.

You’re new at this, aren’t ya?“ the bank tel­ler in the first bank asks bro­thers Tan­ner (Ben Fos­ter) and Toby Howard (Chris Pine, STAR TREK) when not­hing goes accord­ing to plan on their first rob­be­ry. The old cow­boy in the second bank is more annoy­ed about the­se wanna­be out­laws ste­aling his colt than anything else and opens fire. The Howard bro­thers are on one mis­si­on: they have to get enough money by Thurs­day for the fami­ly farm that has cru­de oil under it. What else can you do it if your only skill is vio­lence? Rob­bing banks is pret­ty old-school. Texas ran­ger Mar­cus Hamil­ti­on (Jeff Brid­ges), who has this case to sol­ve befo­re ent­e­ring boring reti­re­ment, thinks so too. Ins­tead of making an effort with data­ba­ses, he pre­fers obser­ving the bank from a saloon on the other side of the street. He will be the­re all night if he has to be.
The Texas of HELL OR HIGHWATER is imbued with melan­cho­ly and nost­al­gia. The ban­dits and the she­riffs aren’t the only relics from a simp­ler time, ever­yo­ne the­re is figh­t­ing for sur­vi­val and is drea­ming of a bet­ter past or future. The film is awa­re of the con­tra­dic­tions yet still brings the gen­re rules of the clas­sic wes­tern to the modern era. Ins­tead of gal­lo­ping with a hor­se on the prai­rie, they dri­ve with alter­na­ting cars across ghost towns with clo­sed shops and decay. It all looks gre­at of cour­se. And as a point of honor: there’s a duel in the end. Jeff Brid­ges, Hollywood’s cur­rent first choice when it comes to “old she­riffs” makes Hamil­ton both stubborn and char­ming, and Pine and Foster’s ban­dits are mul­ti­fa­ce­ted cha­rac­ters and not cli­chés. But no one should piss them off if they care about stay­ing ali­ve becau­se they draw fast in Texas.

Chris­ti­an Klo­se

Trans­la­ti­on: Eli­nor Lewy


USA 2016, 102 Min., engl. OmU
Regie: David Macken­zie
Dreh­buch: Tay­lor She­ri­dan
Musik: Nick Cave, War­ren Ellis
Dar­stel­ler: Chris Pine, Ben Fos­ter, Jeff Brid­ges, Gil Bir­ming­ham