No Country For Good Men
‘Hell Or High Water‘ is a film that has been making waves in America and now in the UK. They are calling it “the future of Westerns” can you believe it? Actually after watching it, yes. Yes I can.
When people think of Westerns they think of movies like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly; A Fistfull Of Dollars; Stagecoach but never really anything modern. The last real modern Western we had was No Country For Old Men, it seems like no one can crack how to make a genre set in a classical period modern, which is preposterous if we consider it, because all of the Sci fi films we love are all westerns in disguise, especially Star Wars. So why could no one do it? The answer I believe lies in subtlety.
Like any other genre of film, what you think should define it, isn’t what defines it. Allow me to explain, a western isn’t defined just by gun fights or riding horses or bank robberies or cowboys and Indians, but by a sense of justice being served and always an element of revenge for someone who is not strong enough to take it themselves. This is where David Mackenzie comes in.
David Mackenzie has already proved himself a powerful and intelligent director with Starred Up, but in Hell Or High Water he shows just how special he really is. Mackenzie blends together harsh violence with deep storytelling and characters to make Hell Or High Water one of the best films I’ve seen all year.
The penitent beauty is what makes Hell Or High Water stand so far away from the rest of the crowded room that complies together and is called “Modern Western”. It’s the difference between knowing when to speak and when not to, that’s what Hell Or High Water does best. The film is also very good at revealing little chunks of information that make up the puzzle of the film without revealing too much at any one given time.
There is also the sense that what the two brothers are doing (which is literally day light robbery) is somehow noble; that what they are doing is justified both for themselves and the audience. This again is a trope of westerns.
The acting speaks for itself on many levels, Jeff Bridges plays his role to perfection, we are given the underrated Ben Foster as an ex con and Chris Pine as a downtrodden hero, these three hold the screen with both power and grace. I am very happy to see Chris Pine finally get the roles he deserves and not the ones that he is dictated.
There are so many elements to Hell Or High Water that make it superior that I can’t even list them all, the soundtrack is remorseful and fresh and the acting is compelling and still, and the directing is absorbing and anonymous, the script is substantial and funny, the story is gripping and conclusive. All of these things are what make Hell Or High Water a movie that will be remembered for a long time to come as one of the truly over looked gems.
I’ve not seen Magnificent Seven yet but no matter how good a western it is, Hell Or High Water is already better.
Hell Or High Water successfully nods to the past while forging a new path for the future of westerns to pursue.