*WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD FOR A FILM RELEASED IN 2016*
Toby Howard robbed banks with his brother to help save their mother’s farm. Their actions led to four people being killed, not including Toby’s brother, Tanner (Ben Foster, superb as usual).
Played by the equally superb Chris Pine, Toby is the more sympathetic and less threatening person in the duo-unless you’re an asshole at a gas station-and the one someone would call the “brains” of the operation. The actions of the Howard brothers collided with law enforcement in the form of Texas Rangers (Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham).
It’s this magnificent film, directed by David McKenzie and Taylor Sheridan, that sets up the final scene I will show below. A sequence that I would call the best in Pine’s career. Long known for playing the younger iteration of Captain John Kirk in the newer “Star Trek” films, Pine has put in a lot of great work elsewhere. None of it comes close to his work as the more noble brother, who comes to a head with Bridges’ retired badge in the film’s final scene.
Tense, well-written, and carrying the feel of a classic gunslinger face-off. Bridges’ Marcus Hamilton wants revenge for his partner, but the next best thing would be the reason why Toby and Tanner robbed all of those banks, which led to innocent people dying. The usual collateral damage of laws being broken. But the secret sauce in “Hell or High Water” was the poetic anchor under the robberies: the brothers were trying to save their mom’s ranch/house from being repossessed by a bank that had done her wrong. A Texas bank that made the hole for a blue collar citizen impossible to dig out of. So, the boys broke the law and that led to this wonderful scene.
But before I let you go, allow me to tell you about the timing and need for this post. With Pine in the news for his hilarious reactions and facial expressions at the Venice Film Festival, where his upcoming film “Don’t Worry Darling” was premiering, the discussion on social media made several mentions of Pine’s best work coming in the “Star Trek” movies. If you know me semi-well, that only means I need to step out and say that while he was a great Kirk, the Toby character sunk in deeper.
I would show the video with you but YouTube and fellow video sharing establishments will not allow me to link or embed the code in below for you to view it. But I can tell you the flawless film is available with a subscription on Netflix, and only $3.99 on Amazon Prime. Worth it and then some.
Watch it twice, especially the final nine minutes.