David Mackenzie’s tale of two brothers robbing banks brings something different and exciting into the cinema this year. It blends an old western feel with the modern day to provide a strong piece of drama that will enthrall viewers.
The film follows struggling father Toby (Chris Pine) and ex-convict Tanner (Ben Foster) as they carry out a series of heists at the bank trying to foreclose their family farm. The two characters are starkly different, the softer, morally conflicted Toby contrasts greatly with his short-tempered, more violent brother, allowing for interesting interactions and clashes as the brothers carry out their plans. Following up behind them is Jeff Bridge’s Texas Ranger, determined to catch them, his trail leading to a tense and gripping showdown in the film’s climax.
There is strong acting all around, helping to build an enticing story around authentic-feeling characters. This also makes the characters’ interactions more involving, making the dialogue focused scenes as gripping as those of action.
The film’s setting itself also adds a great deal of atmosphere. Mackenzie manages to capture an authentic Texas backdrop, as well as emphasise the timely economic and social attitudes. This helps to ground the film and characters, allowing the audience to understand the characters and empathise with their situation more. You are also embroiled in the moral dilemma, questioning whether you truly should be empathising with these characters committing crimes.
This is a taut thriller that is not prolonged, nor overstays its welcome. It is incredibly absorbing creating tense atmosphere and evoking deep feelings. One of the great, refreshing films of the year.