Logo for Hell or High Water on DStv

Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster

An action drama about Toby, a divorced father who's trying to make a better life for his son. His brother, Tanner, is an ex-convict with a short temper and a loose trigger finger.


The devise a plan to rob a series of branches of the Texas Midland Bank, stealing just enough from the registers to interest only the local police, without unwanted national attention. It turns out that the bank they’re stealing from is about to foreclose on the family farm – and they’re planning to pay back the debt using the bank’s own money. It seems like the perfect crime spree – nobody gets hurt and the victim has it coming.


The wrinkle in the plan is that they attract the attention of grizzled Texas Ranger Marcus, who’s looking for one last case to solve before heading off into retirement.


Hell or High Water scored a host of awards nominations – including four Oscar nods (Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing, as well as Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor and Best Screenplay – by being something of a surprise hit. The film was released in the midst of a slew of superhero films (the kind that Director Mackenzie passionately hates) and harks back to a type of all-action, macho cinema that hasn’t been seen since the 1970s.


Mackenzie called Hell or High Water a “love at first sight experience”, when he was sent writer Taylor Sheridan’s script as a spec project. “I very rarely read a script that I don’t feel I want to change a lot,” he said, adding that he enjoyed the “freewheeling vibe” that he loved from films made in the 70’s.  “I have a big soft spot for American male cinema from the late 60’s and 70’s. The great thing about that period in time is, although they were often quite tough movies or about tough situations, there was a lot of sensitivity and a lot of humanity embedded within those things. They were putting a bit of the human touch into what was previously a very hard-boiled genre,” he says. “For a while at least, we’ve not been exposed to that kind of material very much. I think cinema has been trying to aim at a slightly younger, softer market so it’s nice to have a film playing to a decent audience and connecting with people that is a little bit harder and more grown-up.” 


Star Chris Pine, who plays Toby, says the film is about the failure of men to be intimate and vulnerable when they desperately want to be. “They just don’t have the language or the facility to do so. That was the big draw for me,” Pine said. “To hear the voices that kind of congress together and see how it depicts people’s anger and frustration is very illuminating for me and powerful for the social conversation. It was really well formed on the page and we had an incredible director so it was a prayer that we would maintain the magic on the page,” Pine added.