Wife M and I watched “Hell or High Water.” I loved it.
On its own, it was an attention-holding story. I worried about the two boys (whether they’d get caught when they were trying to take care of their family), the two rangers (when the one was just a few months from retiring I had a suspicious there would be a potentially-tragic showdown) and the people along the way. I was rooting for the boys to pull themselves out of debt, but also for the likable police officers (who reminded me of the two DEA agents in “Breaking Bad” and/or the two Sheriffs in “No Country For Old Men”).
It also had many great social comments. It mentions poverty (“like a disease”) and small towns dying and humans being controlled by the bank. There was definitely a point that a bank could take advantage of an impoverished old woman and that is legal, but two men robbing that same bank to protect the old woman’s land was not. Or that it was humorous for the Ranger that the waitress was upset she’d lost her $200 tip to evidence, even after she’d made the comment she was trying to keep a roof over her family’s heads. Also, in old Westerns you got the sense that American towns were on the path towards growth and prosperity, but in this “modern western” you got the sense that American towns were decrepit and dying.
We live in an age where exploding wage inequality will mean the vast majority of Americans will not have the money to cover illness and old age, and so will do things like take reverse mortgages for pennies on the dollar to cover those costs, which means the wealthy (who give the money for these reverse mortgages) will continue to take a larger share of the pie (e.g. houses for pennies on the dollar) all the while justifying this. (This was actually one of the root causes of The French Revolution – the wealthy were foreclosing on the poor, who were struggling to cover the rising costs). It’s not fair and is a huge flaw in the system, and the movie points all this out very well.
I’d love to watch this movie again. I was too busy enjoying the story and noticing the social commentary to look for other things (symbols, etc.).