‘Hell Or High Water’

hell_or_high_waterIt’s hardly new in its story – a pair of bank-robbing brothers hit various regional branches of the very bank that’s looking to foreclose on the small West Texas family ranch.

Yet, with near faultless performances, Hell Or High Water is a cracking drama oozing authenticity with more than a little commentary on the role of corporations in small town America. Chris Pine (Star Trek, The Finest Hours) and his ex-con brother Ben Foster (The Program, The Finest Hours) are polar-opposites down on their luck. A laconic, no-nonsense Jeff Bridges (True Grit, Crazy Heart) is the sheriff on their trail.

Imbued with a deep humanity, Taylor Sheridan’s (Sicario) script is pitch-perfect in its transference to the screen by British director David McKenzie (Starred Up, Young Adam).

One of the best films of the year.

Rating: 80%

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‘Z For Zachariah’

z_for_zachariah_posterA ménage-a-trois in a post-nuclear world where civilisation has been largely destroyed.

But its dystopian setting is a stunningly beautiful mountainous valley of green pastures, where a deeply impressive Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad, The Wolf of Wall Street) has survived in rural isolation on the family farm. Her lonely idyl is interrupted by Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave, The Martian): their idyl is interrupted by the arrival of Chris Pine (Star Trek, Hell Or High Waters).

Director Craig Zobel (Compliance) creates a patient, slow burn of a film in which the three characters admirably play out the evolving storyline.

Rating: 60%

‘Star Trek Beyond’

star_trek_beyond_ver2I loved the 2009 reboot with Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto et al – but its been a downhill interstellar journey since then.

Sure, it tells its story well enough – but that story has been told a million times before (and in other Star Trek stories of long ago). The Federation has pissed someone off in the past and now they want revenge. Cue mass destruction (or threat thereof) of fleets, planets, solar systems.

But at least this was not just about Kirk and Spock and their macho strutting – under director Justin Lin (Fast & Furious, Fast & Furious 6), the Enterprise crew and the building of the team was much in evidence.

Rating: 52%

‘The Finest Hours’

TheFinestHoursTheatricalPosterEngaging and at times compelling, The Finest Hours is an old-fashioned tale of heroism on the high seas whilst family, friends and love interest await anxiously on land.

In spite of its subject, helmed by Chris Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl, Fright Night), The Finest Hours is a surprisingly quiet, character-driven drama. The reluctant heroes – a quiet, against character Chris Pine (Star Trek, Unstoppable) and the ridiculously underrated Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James, Interstellar) – are stoic in their actions to save lives.

Shamelessly manipulative it may be, but The Finest Hours is based on a true 1952 event  – and its sentimentality and old-fashionedness works perfectly in its telling.

Rating: 62%