Hell or High Water Is Like a Coen Brothers Movie – But With a Better Ending – CBR – Comic Book Resources

Hell or High Water Is Like a Coen Brothers Movie – But With a Better Ending – CBR – Comic Book Resources

The Coen brothers make amazing films with unsuspecting endings. Hell or High Water has the same vibe but also gave viewers a great payoff.
In the 2016 American neo-Western film Hell or High Water, director David Mackenzie and writer Taylor Sheridan created a strong Texan tone throughout the movie, giving audiences a taste of West Texas life and proving the Western genre isn't dead. The characters are well-written, and each actor portrayed their role well. The plot itself is about two brothers who rob two branches of the Texas Midlands Banks to save their mother's ranch from being seized by the banks themselves, turning them into modern-day Western heroes.
The entire premise is very Coen Brothers-esque, as many of their movies have had to do with characters trying to illegally get their hands on a large sum of money. The lesson at the end of most of their movies is that money isn't worth all the effort and pain they suffer through to obtain and keep it. Hell or High Water went in the opposite direction with this, as Chris Pine's character Toby does end up with the money and gets away with the robberies, giving audiences what they often come to the theater to experience – a catharsis.
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A couple of movies to consider from the Coens when comparing to the premise of Hell or High Water are Fargo and No Country for Old Men. Obviously, there are many more Coen Brothers movies that center around illegal activities with the end goal that the main characters will keep their money by the end, even though that never happens. The movie Fargo was so well-known for this that the inspired TV series (Season 5 trailer out now) tells the same story in each season, just with different characters during various time periods, but the results are always the same – whoever wanted the money doesn't end up with it.
Although Fargo isn't technically based on a true story, the struggles of the characters seem rather realistic and give the audience a sense that these events could take place in the real world. At the end of the movie, Marge Gunderson, the detective on the case, tells Gaear, the main villain, that all the murders he committed weren't worth the money by saying, "And for what? For a little bit of money. There's more to life than a little money, you know."
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What Gunderson said might be true, but Westerns notoriously center around money, as it is the key to fixing most of their problems, especially when those problems stem from poverty. No Country for Old Men is specifically a Western by the Coens that focuses on a bag of money, passing from person to person until ending up in the hands of Llewelyn. Even though he's smart about the money and makes a plan to ensure he and his wife end up with it in the end, he finds an untimely death that might be realistic but can also arguably be considered disappointing to the audience (although most Coen fans would have known not to expect a tidy ending).
In Hell or High Water, Toby and Tanner go through tense and stressful situations to secure the money and then keep it from landing in police custody. Near the end of the movie, there's a major shootout with Tanner and the cops in the middle of the desert, and Tanner sacrifices himself so Toby can get away. Tanner recognized that he was problematic and would always remain so, releasing Toby to escape and do the right thing. In the end, Toby saved the ranch and secured a safe home for his wife and child. All is good in his life by the end of the movie, even if Jeff Bridges' character isn't happy with the loose end to his case.
Giving Toby everything he earned gave audiences a moment of catharsis as they followed Toby on this journey. Each death in the movie had a reason behind it that was more than simply derailing the story into the chaos that often takes place in most Coen Brothers films. The Coen style is distinct and does serve its role in the media, as not-so-happy endings can also prove entertaining and sometimes well-deserved. But Hell or High Water was able to take viewers on a wild ride with guns blazing and still tied the story up in a nice little bow by the end.
Madison Diaz has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication with a minor in writing. Now, she’s in grad school, pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing. Her overall goal in life is to be a writer and eventually publish romance novels. She enjoys reading, writing, and casual gaming. She has a cute senior dog and a cool husband who loves talking with her about comics and wrestling.

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