Leave it to Texas to come save summer. The modern day western "Hell or High Water" isn't just the best movie of the year so far - it may end up being a new Lone Star State classic.
If the dusty, parched landscapes feel close to home, it's because it literally is. It's set in small towns across West Texas (Jayton, Post, Coleman, and others) and filmed in Clovis and Portales, New Mexico. West Texas is a living, breathing character in this picture with the filmmakers getting so many details right - from comments about Dr. Pepper versus Mr. Pibb to characters you'll swear you've met.
Directed with palpable kinetic energy by David Mackenzie, the story is about two brothers played by Chris Pine and Ben Foster robbing branches of the bank foreclosing on their family farm. Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham are Texas Rangers based out of Lubbock tracking these brothers and waiting for them to make a mistake.
While the performances are all fantastic, it's Foster who blew me away as a maniac tempered only by his love for his family. And Bridges - playing a role familiar to him - finds the beating, breaking heart in what could so easily be played as a cliche.
Screenwriter Taylor Sheridan (from the Waco area) isn't satisfied with a fantastically entertaining cops and robbers story. He's crafted a socially conscious modern western where some of the bad guys wear expensive suits instead of black hats - bankers take the land, not armies anymore.
"Hell or High Water" is bold a piece of entertainment - thoughtful, deep and thrilling. It refuses to blend in or play by rules other than its own. As one character puts it, "If that ain't Texan, I don't know what is."