Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 2016. Film 44, LBI Productions, OddLot Entertainment, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment. Screenplay by Taylor Sheridan. Cinematography by Giles Nuttgens. Produced by Peter Berg, Carla Hacken, Sidney Kimmel, Julie Yorn. Music by Nick Cave, Warren Ellis. Production Design by Tom Duffield. Costume Design by Malgosia Turzanska. Film Editing by Jake Roberts. Academy Awards 2016. Golden Globe Awards 2016. Gotham Awards 2016. Independent Spirit Awards 2016. Washington Film Critics Awards 2016.
Two brothers rob a series of banks in quick succession, taking small bills from the front desks of small, poorly guarded branches in dusty Texan towns to avoid stealing traceable money and pulling off their heists with very few problems (at least at first). They spark the interest of a sheriff about to retire (Jeff Bridges), who along with his partner Gil Birmingham goes on the hunt for the guys causing this slowly escalating mayhem. What this clever tale reveals little by little is that the robbers are not in it for the rush or because of greed; while Ben Foster has a bad attitude and can rarely keep himself out of the clink, calmer sibling Chris Pine actually has property issues to deal with related to the financial crisis and has taken the law into his own hands to deal with them. Rich characters and patient direction are splashed across a parched landscape for a film that is absorbing and surprisingly very funny. Examining the American cultural obsession with vigilante justice is given a curious twist by making both cops and robbers the good guys, while the banking institutions take the heat for their sinister villainy: the wholly satisfying conclusion bears this out with great style, though it also hits its point a bit too hard on the nose, saved from banality mainly by the rich supply of humour liberally doled out by the intelligent screenplay.