Toby (Chris Pine) is a divorced father who’s trying to make a better life for his son. His brother Tanner (Ben Foster) is an ex-convict with a short temper and a loose trigger finger. Together, they plan a series of heists against the bank that’s about to foreclose on their family ranch. Standing in their way is Marcus (Jeff Bridges), a Texas Ranger who’s only weeks away from retirement. As the siblings plot their final robbery, they must also prepare for a showdown with a crafty lawman who’s not ready to ride off into the sunset.
Here’s another second opinion review. This one follows an earlier review from Matt St. Clair from Film Guy Reviews which you can read here. You can chalk this down again to not being able to see it until now. Expectations weren’t very high anyway since it just seemed like a bunch of bad accents and whatnot. Despite this, people are falling in love with it so it was still worth a watch if anything, just to see what all the fuss was about.
The film does not waste any time putting us right in the thick of things with us following a pair of brothers named Toby (Pine) and Tanner (Foster) about to rob a local bank. This wasn’t just any bank as this one was about to foreclose on their family’s ranch. Here we also get a real sense of the film’s setting. The film was very Texas-y which was exactly what one would expect. That along with the very bleak and gritty-looking setting made the film more authentic and making it more immersive.
An interesting thing about the film was that Toby and Tanner are two different people. Toby was definitely the smarter one which made him more cautious and Tanner was a loose cannon who always seemed to get a thrill out of doing bad things. It was pretty much up to Toby to manage Tanner and not let him get into too much trouble, although he did come close several times, so they can both achieve their goal. Watching them together was fun because of their chemistry which made their relationship feel more believable.
Their differences were obvious with Tanner sometimes being a little too over the top but despite that, they still loved each other and that was easy to see. Sure there was more to the story than saving their farm as far as both brothers are concerned. Toby had motives of his own and Tanner was there for support his brother. The film didn’t really elaborate on these motives. It also tried to make the banks out as the enemy but didn’t go far enough with it either. This fact took away some of the impact behind what they were doing. Even with that, they were still likable enough so we can root for them.
The other side of the equation was the man chasing them, a Texas Ranger named Marcus (Bridges). Of course he is on the brink of retirement but he isn’t quite ready to give it all up yet. Marcus was part of the old guard, he was a smart, grizzled veteran cop who wanted to stretch things out in order to delay his inevitable fate. Along for the ride was a fellow Ranger named Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham). He was there to mostly balance things out and watching Marcus tease him based on his Mexican/Indian ethnicity was funny. This worked mostly because of their good chemistry which made them fun to watch.
Their run wasn’t going to last forever since as the more robberies they committed, the more dangerous things became for them. These more action-heavy sequences were exciting to watch and well done. These well shot sequences and the cinematography made it a beautiful film. The music was very fitting but was sometimes distracting from the action on screen.
The acting here was great all around. Pine was marvelous here in a mature, restrained performance as Toby. This performance showed a lot of range here, allowing us to relate to his own inner struggle. Foster was a little too over the top as Tanner but was still somewhat enjoyable, being the wilder brother. His wildness brought some laughs as his personality contrasted with everyone else brought along some wild moments. The best performance was Bridges as Marcus. It is hard to imagine anyone other than Bridges as just became Marcus and would not have worked with anyone else.
Overall, this was a deep and beautiful crime drama with some fantastic performances.