Hell or High Water online movie review - Hero vs. Anti-hero
Chris Pine plays Toby Howard who is an impoverished man who has made a lot of bad choices but very much wants to do right by his sons.
A West Texas bank has taken advantage of Howard's family and is foreclosing on land owned by Toby that it turns out is sitting atop of an oil field. Toby Howard robs banks to raise money to prevent the foreclosure and in the process individuals are murdered with Toby pulling the trigger vis-à-vis one murder. Toby Howard is the anti-hero. Toby's brother who robs banks with Toby is an outright villain.
The Usual Show these days has a large apparently all encompassing plot (here the mysterious ways of the banks) that basically makes no sense, with the lack of sense compensated for by a small group drama, with the Usual Show possessing male anti heroes who only act via personal codes and always act outside the law with revenge and protecting family basically the only goals of such anti heroes. Toby Howard is basically the antihero in the Usual Show. Toby Howard though somewhat sympathetic deserves a sentence of life in prison. Anti-heroes being accepted in society is, of course, horrible. Sympathy in prison yes. Connected up to a prison chaplain, yes. Wary admiration and grudging acceptance in society, no.
Jeff Bridges plays Marcus Hamilton who is a Texas Ranger. Marcus Hamilton plays the hero though a very un-politically correct hero. The racist comments of Marcus Hamilton were not even remotely charming though otherwise Marcus Hamilton appeared to be a good cop.
The villain is gunned down. This isn't a battle between hero and villain. This is a battle between hero and anti-hero. 'Hell or High Water' leaves open who wins between hero and anti-hero.
Anti-hero clearly has won in Hollywood. Hardly a movie can be made where the main characters don't act in various totally unacceptable ways. Is there an eagerness for anti-heroes or are the Powers that Be in Hollywood pushing anti-heroes on the movie going public? The later. People are attracted to horror movies and though more money could be made with edgy movies with heroes or ordinary guys rising to the occasion the Powers That Be in Hollywood can make enough money pushing horror movies with the anti-hero genre a horror genre. That the Powers That Be in Hollywood could make more money in other genres is not to the point. The fourth house is just a hassle.
In Texas today Toby Howard would be on death row. Toby Howard is the obvious suspect. How an investigation even mildly inconveniences the bank is not clear. Texas Rangers letting the murder of Texas Ranger go unpunished is very unlikely. There could be no conceivable reason for doing so. Texans admiring and protecting a man who gunned down Texans while robbing banks - not likely.
The main difficulty with the movie is that it purports to be a movie about West Texas when the movie is actually is a murky commentary on movies made in Hollywood. A point should be made vis-à-vis Hollywood horror movies. They don't reveal any larger plot vis-à-vis society. Horror is pushed for the sake of horror. There are numerous silos in Hollywood which the Powers That Be vis-a-vis Hollywood totally allow. Amidst such silos individuals are encouraged to hold that such individuals are making cultural contributions vis-à-vis a group with whatever is believed okay as long as horror movies are made. Different silos consult with various academics and critics who to put the matter bluntly pull the wool over the eyes of individuals who consult such individuals. Actually the academics and critics are the drivers as Hollywood execs are lost at sea as to how to shape the culture and desperately want advice, know that that there are criticism cults of all sorts that must be navigated and these academics seem somewhat sensible. Horror does sell after all. Academics who are pleasant, erudite, softly spoken apparently warm can be even more terrible than an impossible Hollywood director or an impossible actor. The Powers that Be are always very, very reasonable sorts.
Along in with the pushing of horror on the US there is an attempt by the Powers that Be to nurture antiheroes in 3D but the Powers that Be are totally okay with poor people being ripped off by banks. What the Powers That Be are looking for is people like Stephen Bannon of Breitbart a totally amoral individual who will do anything to push a 'Common Good' which is now vis-à-vis the Powers That Be a populism that is an attack on the separation of Powers, an attack on the Executive branch and an attack on the Judicial Branch. Vis-à-vis the goal of attempting to nurture individuals who are totally amoral vis-a--vis a 'Common Good' movies with antiheroes who gun down bank guards etc are given the greenlight by the Powers that Be in Hollywood. The main point vis-à-vis the Powers That Be is that individuals must be willing to act amorally vis-à-vis some 'Common Good'. The generation of horror and the attempt to nurture people who are totally amoral vis-à-vis the gaining of some 'Common Good' is now what Hollywood is about. The Iraqi FUBAR of George Bush is an example of what the Powers That Be have achieved and are capable of.
Popular entertainment dominated by horror makes various political policies more easily pushed. For example, with Hollywood movies filling the screens with horror the need to 'Make our Nation Great Again' seems sensible to some. 'Hell or High Water' then is a murky, horrible movie.