102 minute running time. [SPOILERS]
Inexplicably has a 96% Fresh rating from "Top Critics" at Rotten Tomatoes, which caused me to borrow it from the local Redbox, to my chagrin. Mumble, mumble, couldn't understand half the dialogue and for some reason the subtitles were disabled on my disc.
Has a weird No Country For Old Men copycat vibe (that was a *great* movie), but it just doesn't work. Jeff Bridges plays Tommy Lee Jones, but he's mumbling worse than ever, even worse than his Texas Marshal role in True Grit. He has a half-Mexican, half-Injun partner whom he insults endlessly ... don't worry, the "half-breed" has his head blown off in the end.
Two scrawny brothers ... old Ma dies with family ranch in hock to EVIL banksters and back taxes ... one brother recently released after a ten year stretch in jail (though not for killin' his Pa) ... non-felon brother gets the bright idea to start robbin' banks across west Texas to pay off them EVIL banksters and the gubmint, and dumb criminal brother is game.
Scenes of these desolate, shitty towns and FAST CASH billboards (hint hint) ... oh, and the movie starts off with graffiti on the side of a house that says, "Three tours in I-raq but no bailout for folks like me," or something along those lines. Ya know, subtle.
Badly done poker scene where criminal brother splashes the pot with a bet -- I winced. And you can't exchange more than X dollars at the casino without having your tax ID attached to it.
They keep burying cars that are worth more than the bank drawer cash they're stealin', but I guess they're stolen cars. Old Jeff Bridges mumbling and stumbling after them across the vast expanse of west Texas. Jeff will forever be The Dude, he isn't going to shake that no matter how much he mumbles and stumbles.
Surly ex-wife of the non-felon brother, ya know, once a purty girl but run-down by her shitty life ... it isn't clear what he's done to earn such derision from his ex- and boys (one, a fatty with glasses, only get a glimpse of him at the end) ... maybe it was explained and I didn't hear it (possible), but I doubt it. Did I mention that this brother is a dead ringer for Josh Brolin's kid brother?
Dumbest part of all is there's Crude Earl or Natty under the ranch, and old Ma could've leased it to Chevron decades ago and been pumpin' out $50,000 worth every month since then ... but nah, scrawny cows were the way to go. And the boys couldn't have done the lease at any time before her death, just cuz.
Ends with Bridges and Brolin's little brother exchanging mumbled threats across a bare lawn, pfffffft. Only saving grace here is the movie stopped short of the sacred 100 minute mark.
Ah, I see now that the kid who wrote it also did Sicario, which I didn't like either.
There were some funny bits, and some clever bits of dialogue in the little I could understand, but damn, this movie is NOT recommended. Let me go find some critics who agree and paste their stuff below ... only able to find ONE! Crazy, what a bunch of hacks.
Peter Sobczynski: "it's somewhat less than the sum of its parts ... [the writer] appears to have elected to raid the Cormac McCarthy playbook in order to employ the celebrated author’s sparse and laconic tone wherever possible ... it tries so hard to emulate the likes of 'No Country for Old Men' at times that you can feel it practically straining from the effort without quite pulling it off" ... and the key paragraph in its entirety, with which I agree:
"It’s frustrating that 'Hell or High Water' contains so many good things that just don’t coalesce into a fully satisfying moviegoing experience [He means movie but needed more syllables]. The story as a whole is a little too derivative for its own good and not even the strong elements are quite able to compensate for that. Of course, seeing as how even vaguely competent films have been so few and far between as of late, some viewers may be a little more willing to overlook its flaws—to wildly paraphrase one of the key lines from 'No Country for Old Men,' 'If it ain’t a good movie, it’ll do till the good movie gets here.' [SAD] If only it had spent a little more time trying to find its own voice and a little less overtly trying to ape the styles of its influences, 'Hell or High Water' might have been as good of a movie as it wishes it was."