Hell or High Water is one of my favorite films from 2016, this modern Western film stars Chris Pine, Ben Foster, and Jeff Bridges. It was nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Film Editing, and Best Original Screenplay in 2017. It’s a shame that it didn’t win any of those awards because the movie is amazing, but that is aside from the point. Today, I’ll be reviewing the 4K UHD release from Lionsgate Home Video.
Following two brothers (played by Pine and Foster) on a series of heists of a local bank chain in Midland Texas, Hell or High Water isn’t exactly your typical heist film. Where we are used to seeing the build up and preparation leading up to the robberies or main heist of a film, this movie skips all that and jumps right into the action. The main source of mystery here instead comes from why these brothers are knocking over banks in the first place, and if they will get caught.
In fact, the viewer doesn’t get all of their answers until fairly late in the film; and some answers never come at all.
Toby and Tanner Howard might be related by blood and ability to rob banks, but the similarities stop right around there. Toby is divorced with kids to take care of, and cautiously masterminds their situation; while Tanner is more of a firecracker who will do anything to help his kin and relishes in the thrill. Together, they are working their way through a series of bank robberies to raise a set (but unknown to the viewer until later) amount of money.
However, multiple banks in the same chain being robbed is not something that goes unnoticed. Enter Marcus Hamilton (Bridges), a nearly retired Texas Ranger who, along with his partner Alberto, has been assigned to tracking down and catching those responsible.
So, that’s the setup – this movie can be boiled down to quite literally cops and robbers. However, there is much more to it than that. What makes Hell or High Water so great lies in it’s writing and how developed these characters are – and how well they are acted.
Each of the main characters has an important role to play, and for how much action there is in this movie, there is a surprising amount of character growth involved as well. Perhaps this is best shown in Marcus, who desperately wants to close out his final case with a win. His determination and ruthlessness is without a doubt the reason that Jeff Bridges got his nomination, and the costs that his character expends throughout give this movie a very real and gritty feeling that won’t go away quickly.
This is one of my favorite Chris Pine roles as well. Not because I’m a “Pine Nut” (ugh, I hate that that is a thing; I’m a fan, but not crazy or anything), but because he does a stellar job of portraying a wide range of emotions believably, while not being overtly sexualized like he is in almost everything else he does.
I would put in a paragraph here about Ben Foster also being great, but he Ben Foster is literally always great. He is terrifying and familiar in this film, and 100% someone I would want on my side. He is the man.
In the end, I can definitely say that Hell or High Water is worth a watch. It appears to a very wide audience with its action-oriented heists and has that Old West vibe at the same time. You should definitely see this film.
Visually, Hell or High Water has always looked great. The sweat and grit definitely stand out in high definition and in 4K these details are even more pronounced. The color palette also appears a bit more accurate, as is to be expected.
With car chases, gun fights, and general frantic running around all over the place, this film isn’t just visually exciting, it is also very entertaining to listen to.
Despite being listed as having Dolby Atmos, this release only has a Master Audio 5.1 channel track as far as I can tell. However, it still sounds every bit as good as the Blu-ray release. The action scenes are mixed well so as to not lose any dialog in the fray, and the surround channels definitely get work done to immerse the viewer into the scene. I can’t say this is much of an improvement, but it is definitely every bit as good as the already great Blu-ray release.
As is becoming standard with Lionsgate’s 4K catalog releases, this release has all of the same features as the previously released Blu-ray.
- Enemies Forever: The Characters of Hell or High Water
- Visualizing the Heart of America
- Damaged Heroes: The Performance of Hell or High Water
- Red Carpet Premiere
- Filmmaker Q&A
Hell or High Water Final Thoughts:
Hell or High Water is a fantastic film that has it all – mystery, action, great writing, and spot-on acting. This 4K release might not be worth a double dip unless you are a big fan, due to lack of new special features and Atmos support, but it is one Hell of a good looking (see what I did there?) movie for sure.
You can purchase from Amazon or other Blu-ray retailers.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgment or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.