Genre Grandeur August Finale- Hell or High Water (2016) – Mini Media Reviews

For this month’s next review for Genre Grandeur – Revenge Movies, here’s a review of Hell or High Water (2016) by Gavin of Mini Media Reviews

Thanks again to Gavin of Mini Media Reviews for choosing this month’s genre.

In case you missed any of this month’s reviews, here’s a recap:

  1. The Painted Veil (2006) – SG
  2. Kill Bill (2003) – Keith
  3. Kill Bill (2003) – Kira
  4. Django Unchained (2012) – Rob
  5. Leon: The Professional (1994) – Darren
  6. John Wick (2014) – Keith
  7. Unforgiven (1992) – Rob
  8. Hannie Caulder (1972) – Richard
  9. John Wick Chapter 2 (2017) – Keith
  10. Memento (2000) – Rob
  11. Hell or High Water (1944) – Gavin

In addition, I watched and reviewed 3 movies for my companion series Genre Guesstimation.  Surprisingly, only one of them will now be considered among my favorites of the genre.

  1. Payback (1999)
  2. *The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
  3. I Saw the Devil (2010)

Next month’s Genre has been chosen by Robb of Red Bezzle and it is Remade Movies.

Love or hate, compare and contrast, and dare to say they’re better. It could be a relocated remake a la The Magnificent Seven, an Animation to Live Action remake similar to The Jungle Book or straight forward reimagining such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. 

Please get me your submissions by the 25th of September by sending them to

Try to think out of the box! Great choice Robb!

Let’s see what Gavin thought of this movie:


Hell or High Water


Director: David Mackenzie

Year: 2016

Starring: Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges, Gil Birmingham

Running Time: 102mins


Hell or High Water is not your classic revenge story but it does tell the story of two brothers as they exact some, rather fitting, revenge. This film is not filled with over the top violence but then again revenge can be served in many different ways, this one takes a slightly higher, less visceral route but still hits the intended victim where it hurts.


Brothers Toby and Tanner are taking on the Texas Midlands Bank in order to hit back at the Bank for using their underhand ways, and abusing their position of power, by selling their mother a shitty deal on her mortgage for the family house and land. This as we find out later is a thinly veiled attempt at a land grab, made all the more important when you find out that the land has a reserve of oil located underneath it. The brothers’ choice of method, beautifully conceived, is to rob branches of Texas Midland to then pay back the money owed on the mortgage with the banks own money.


The heart of this film is the relationships between the brothers, Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster), and that between the law men. Fantastic dialogue combined with emotional connections that feel real, gives this film a real air of authenticity. Ben Foster is a tour-de-force throughout, dynamic and ever moving, restless. Chris Pine is the thinker, down on his luck but his heart is in the right place.  The interactions between Tanner and Toby are the cornerstone of this film, it is completely believable and brings a smile to your face when they are in full flow. In contrast you also feel for them in their plight and their plan to get one over on the banks. On the other side Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) is an old, smart mouthed, snarky commenting, close to retirement lawman and he is paired with the straight talking Alberto Parker. Parkers Native Indian and Mexican heritage a constant target for Hamilton’s barbs. The back and forth interactions between these two are brilliant and feel very natural.


There is an underlying current of people having everything taken away from them by hostile means. Americans took the land from Native Americans and now the Americans are being ousted by the financial class. Progress it is billed as but progress it certainly isn’t. The beautifully shot wide vistas of West Texas are in stark contrast to the destitute, run down small communities. We are also treated to multiple stories of banks being the villains and nobody being quite able to stand up for them. Everyone has been touched by their faceless ruthlessness and no one has any sympathy for the bank’s situation.


This film has an overwhelming feeling of realism, that all of this is completely reasonable with nothing being too far fetched. Taylor Sheridan’s screenplay is wonderful; it’s a small but perfectly cast group of actors but they all work so well together in their respective pairs, the dialogue bouncing off each other so naturally and so realistically. David Mackenzie has done a great job on this. Everything slots into place, the characters blend so well together, the story works and keeps you interested and the camerawork is superb. Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’ score is particularly evocative. Heartfelt and emotional, adding depth to the scenes, coupled with the superb acting it really hits all the right notes.


One of the best of 2016.




One thought on “Genre Grandeur August Finale- Hell or High Water (2016) – Mini Media Reviews

  1. I never really thought of this as a revenge movie in the strictest sense – which is interesting because Sheridan’s earlier work as a screenwriter – Sicario – for me – was. It painted a much bigger picture going in about corruption and the drug cartels and internecine jurisdictional wars with law enforcement agencies etc., but ultimately – it was a very small story about revenge – which is why it never really worked for me. Hell or High Water on the other hand – was superb. It was my favorite movie of 2016 for all the reasons that Gavin enumerated – excellent script and direction and a superb cast – right down to the one scene supporting actors. Love this movie.

    Liked by 1 person

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