Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE HIGHWAYMEN (Netflix)

You might have noticed I’ve been reviewing Netflix movies a lot lately. Damn straight, I pay for the service don’t I? And I can just watch Friends, The Office, and Parks and Recreation over and over and over again. And I have a lot of To Be Determined on my top movies of the year, and need to fill it out without spending my money at the theater on shitty films like Miss Bala or Dumbo. Anyway, this just came out like last week, and I’ve seen the original Bonnie and Clyde with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, and was interested to watch what the other side did to *spoiler alert if you aren’t a history person* gun them down in the end. It’s directed by John Lee Hancock, who is hated by my many Austin movie friends on Facebook (they think he is a giant hack). Well, I mean, at least he made it into the business guys. But I agree, he’s a just point and shoot director with no vision. He’s directed only 6 films, and I’ve only really liked two of them. The Founder…and this is #2.

While The Highwaymen is just another point and shoot affair by him, the material is elevated by the screenplay, the acting from both Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson, and the cinematography. I didn’t live in Texas back then, but I heard the whole thing was shot in Texas, and it feels like it. It captures that essence perfectly. And the ventual take down of Bonnie and Clyde I read was filmed right where they were taken down, which was pretty damn cool. The problem with Bonnie and Clyde, and why they got captured was that they had too much of a pattern, and these two retired Texas Rangers, played by Costner and Harrelson, picked up on it super fast when a lot of other people of authority couldn’t.

This film isn’t the be all end all of Netflix films, mind you, but it is quite good. Harrelson and Costner usually always bring their A game and here is no different. I also loved the way Bonnie and Clyde are represented. They barely show their faces, they are mostly dark silhouettes, monsters without a face, killing innocent people. How the movie with Beatty and Dunaway made them not seem too bad, even though they killed a lot of people, this movie makes them the monsters that they deserved to look like back then. They are a mean, powerful force, making them mythical ghosts that people at that time thought were impossible to kill. That part of the film is quite interesting.

The film has several slow parts (it could’ve been shorter and not 2 hrs and 12 mins long), especially when the movie tries to bring an arc and humanity to Costner and Harrelson’s characters…you know, those obligatory scenes where they talk about their past and how they might’ve been monsters themselves at one point even though they were upholding the law. But that’s okay, because if that was missing from the movie, I, and other critics, would just complain that it was missing that aspect. It could’ve been spruced up a bit. And I would’ve loved to see more of Kathy Bates than her literal two scenes playing first Woman Governor of Texas Ma Ferguson. Best part she’s had in years and she’s in it for less than 10 minutes.

Anyway, it’s a pretty solid Netflix view. Unless you really hate the director, who hails from Texas, then this film will not change your mind about him (you know who you are). But everything other than some slow parts are good, and I love that you could kind of watch this film with the original Beatty Bonnie and Clyde as a double feature to give you some perspective on the whole manhunt from both sides. I’m sure a better screenwriter and better director could’ve made a masterful film, but other than superheroes and sequels, what studio other than Netflix is going to take on a film like this these days?

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