HOME ON THE RANGE: Foster (left) and Pine play Texas brothers who desperately turn to crime.
If Thelma and Louise had grandkids, they would probably bear striking resemblances to Toby and Tanner Howard, the pair of protagonist brothers stirring up trouble in Hell or High Water, an intriguing, action-packed drama-thriller written by Taylor Sheridan and directed by David McKenzie.
Toby (Star Trek’s Chris Pine) and Tanner (certified baddie Ben Foster) are rural Texas boys who were raised like twins. Now in their early 30s, they’re still tight but with leaner economic times facing everybody they’re out of work and stand to lose their ranch, in the wake of their mother’s death, if they don’t come up with the money to pay the outstanding mortgage and other expenses.
They hatch a plan to rob a string of small Texas banks, carrying out their daring daylight robberies clad in black ski masks and baggy clothes. They are on a roll when Marcus, a feisty retired ranger (Oscar winner Jeff Bridges) and his partner (Gil Birmingham) discover the patterns in their scheme and turn up the heat.
A deep and palpable strain of melancholy courses through this well-acted movie that has crisp cinematography and an excellent soundtrack among its assets. Though you don’t approve of their actions, your heart goes out to these brothers who you come to realize are good guys who’ve fallen on hard times and make a series of ill-advised choices. As the movie attests, a life of crime never pays.
As portrayed by Pine and Foster, who physically transformed to look like country boys, Toby (a divorced father of two who wants his sons to inherit the ranch) and Tanner (an ex-con with a hedonistic streak) make for believable siblings who don’t always see eye to eye but share the kind of bond that not even death can break asunder. Tyrone’s Verdict: A-