With Taylor Sheridan as the writer and David MacKenzie at the helm, I had high hopes for this movie. Both of their last respective projects (Sheridan - Sicario, MacKenzie - Starred Up) were gritty, violent, and engaging. All of those hold true for Hell or High Water.
The main characters, Chris Pine and Ben Foster turn in great performances. Ben Foster plays the ex-con brother. And as usual, he turns in what I think was the best performance of the movie. He has a knack for playing a top notch supporting role, and often times gets overlooked. Chris Pine also nails it as the more straight laced brother. For a pretty boy of Hollywood, his portrayal is authentic. Jeff Bridges also compliments these two well as the older, sort of jaded officer. Both him and Foster even provide a good amount of laughs, but neither overdo it.
The setting of the movie really sets it above others in the genre. I would say this movie is more crime/drama or heist film than Western, but it definitely has a Western vibe due to its northwest Texas setting. The area has been hit hard by the recession, a failing farm industry, and big oil. It all makes the recklessness and danger Foster and Pine engage in that much more enjoyable, and even sort of relatable. The audience can at least sympathize with them as they do what they think is right.
Overall, this film is well worth a watch. It can be put in a league with more recent films like The Town, Drive, and The Place Beyond the Pines.