Hell or High Water


“Any movie where the majority of female characters throw themselves at the male leads is going to score badly on Gender.”

Title: Hell or High Water (2016)
Director: David Mackenzie 👨🏼🇬🇧
Writer: Taylor Sheridan 👨🏼🇺🇸

Reviewed by Li 👩🏻🇺🇸

Technical: 3.5/5

I could swear I’ve seen this stoic-men Western heist movie at least a hundred times before. No Country for Old Men was cut from the same cloth, but at least it felt fresh in 2007 and the writing was more poignant. I would personally give this movie 1.5/5, but this is been well-reviewed on other outlets so I’ll meet in the middle with a 3.5/5.

Gender: 1/5
Does it pass the Bechdel Test? NO
GradeMyMovie.com Assessment: 28% of creative decision-makers were female

The women in this movie are either victims or sex-starved idiots throwing themselves at the Howard brothers for no reason I can think of, except that the director and writers of this movie think this is how women are supposed to act. Even when writer Taylor Sheridan tried to create a non-throwaway female, such as Toby Howard’s wife, she’s still an incredibly flat character used merely as a tool to further her husband’s storyline.

Race: 4/5
GradeMyMovie.com Assessment: 6% of creative decision-makers were POC

This movie could easily have sank into the all-white quagmire so many Westerns have fallen into, but Hell or High Water does a decent job including Native Americans—in particular, the Comanche—partly due to actor Gil Birmingham’s own ancestry of the same group. In addition, a few Hispanic characters are seen in minor roles, which did not go unappreciated. That being said, this story is still being told from a white man’s POV, made all the more obvious with the way Gil Birmingham’s character is handled later in the film.

Mediaversity Grade: C- 2.83/5

Supposedly a strong film, though I personally found the script derivative and weighed down with flat characters, as if the one or two lead roles that bothered to have nuance are supposed to make up for this deficiency. Hell or High Water is fine on Race but crappy on Gender. (Any media where the majority of female characters throw themselves at the male leads is going to be crappy on Gender.)

How many more navel-gazing, nostalgic masturbatory fantasies of white men ruminating over their distorted views of masculinity do we have to go through before these clunkers stop winning awards?

Grade: CLi