Hell or High Water (2016)
In Hell or High Water the old story of bank robbery, pursuit and escape in Texas is revitalized and made topical without sacrificing the old western spirit: the dream of freedom and breaking free of the bonds of economic dependency is still at the heart of things, and Scottish director David Mackenzie (Hallam Foe) is intelligent enough to know that he needn't be too explicit about raising the discussion of who are really the good and bad guys here. Mackenzie's work is remarkable for a number of other reasons as well, not least how he makes these dying Texan small-towns life look so appealing and appalling at the same time. He sheds new light on characters that are despairing descendants of the once so proud cowboys who claimed and cultivated their pieces of land in order to be able to live their lives independent of others. Today they are again victimized and persecuted, claims the film, but by a different, less palpable enemy. Taylor Sheridan's script portrays a remarkably taut and powerful clash between the old and the new, in more ways than one. And the fine quartet of actors in the lead roles revel in their well-written characters, none more so than Ben Foster who delivers a career-best, perhaps even career-defining performance that will be worthy of any award nomination it can get. His Tanner is willing to sacrifice anything for a feeling of freedom and independence, and as the film closes elegantly and appeasingly, we cannot escape the lingering feeling the he was right all along. It's powerful and poetic, ugly and beautiful.