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Hell or High Water


Stars: Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges, Ben Foster, Gil Birmingham, Katy Mixon, Dale Dickey, Kevin Rankin, Melania Papalia

Director: David Mackenzie

A quite rare throwback to sixties' films about backwoods bandits, this is solid, muscular moviemaking.

Toby (an almost unrecognisable Pine) and his ex-jailbird brother Tanner (Foster) instigate a string of bank robberies in a depressed area of Texas to pay Toby's owings to his ex-wife (Mixon) and clear the mortgage on his ranch, where oil has been found and which he plans to hand over to his two sons.

Back at Texas Rangers base, soon-to-retire Marcus Hamilton (Bridges) and his Mexican/native American partner (Birmingham) - their bantering relationship and racial jibes disguise genuine comradeship - try to figure out where the pair will strike next.

Meanwhile the brothers' plans are constantly threatened by the maverick Tanner, who won't hesitate to shoot and who, on one occasion, dashes across from a diner to rob a bank by himself.

'How'd ya manage to stay out of prison for a year? Toby asks him. 'It was difficult,' admits his brother.

Tanner's last stand is reminiscent of Bogart's in High Sierra, while you'll be conflicted as to whether you want to see Toby caught or not.

Much-chewed-over Texas dialogue is a bit difficult to follow at times, but characters are clearly defined, with no sideline distractions, in a film without an ounce of surplus flesh in its runtime.

David Quinlan

USA 2016. UK Distributor: StudioCanal. Colour (unspecified).
100 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 05 Sep 2016