May include spoilers
In order to save his mother’s ranch so his sons can own it one day, Toby Howard (Chris Pine) teams up with his ex-con brother Tanner (Ben Foster) to pull off a series of bank robberies. As they commit these crimes, Texas ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges), near retirement, seeks to find them and bring them to justice, along with his partner, Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham).
Hell or High Water is a fine film. It boasts good pacing, a wonderful atmosphere (an important conversation has no sound in the background aside from an oil drill), but the main reason it succeeds so well is through its characters and the actors who play them.
Bank robbers Toby and Tanner may be, but they were characters I wanted to watch. Pines and Foster play well off of each other, and I could listen to them chat to each other all day. Tanner gets more of a thrill from bank robberies than his brother, and you get a sense of that without the crime being glamorised. It is Toby, however, that is the focal point of the duo, and his story is developed well. He’s doing this for his ex-wife and sons, and while we only get one real scene with his ex-wife and one son, that scene is still well-acted and written.
Pine and Foster make a fine duo, and so too do Bridges and Birmingham, with the focal point of that twosome, Bridges, being an especially good standout. Hamilton refers to himself as a cowboy, and Bridges plays him as well as he did Rooster Cogburn. The interactions between Hamilton and Parker work as well as those between the Howard brothers, especially a humorous scene where they speak with a waitress. Eventually, these two duos must meet, and the two focal characters must have their own separate meeting, and the result is more than satisfying.
Indeed, Hell or High Water is very satisfying to watch, and I almost wish it had gone on a little longer so I could spend more time with the characters.