Kevin Costner and Woody Harelson working together in this???
Synopsis: THE HIGHWAYMEN follows the untold true story of the legendary detectives who brought down Bonnie and Clyde. When the full force of the FBI and the latest forensic technology aren’t enough to capture the nation’s most notorious criminals, two former Texas Rangers must rely on their gut instincts and old school skills to get the job done. (Netflix)
Starring: Kevin Costner, Woody Harrelson, and Kathy Bates
Writer: John Fusco
Director: John Lee Hancock
Rating: R (United States)
Running Time: 132mins
Now most people are aware of the story of Bonnie and Clyde but what about the people who caught them. Whether or not that story was worthy enough of being told, here it is anyway. The contrast between both sides of the law is definitely drastic to say the least. Focusing on the law side of the equation, The Highwaymen was based on a true story that follows a pair of over-the-hill Texas Rangers named Frank Hamer (Costner) and Maney Gault (Harelson) who were tasked to capture the iconic Bonnie Parker (Emily Brobst) and Clyde Barrow (Edward Bossert).
Told from the perspective of Hamer and Gault, the film features very little of its version of Bonnie and Clyde. Instead, we see them use their instincts and many years of experience in spite of the many advances in technology and policing of the time. While it may have seemed that the rangers were overmatched, they would of course prevail more often than not. The film had a tendency to beat us over the head with that they were very old and not as agile as their younger counterparts.
Hamer and Gault would pretty much wander across the southern United States, seemingly always just missing Bonnie and Clyde. Over time, they would be harder and harder to follow which would make it easier and easier to lose interest as a result. There would be too large of a discconect between Hamer and Gault and Bonnie and Clyde to care about what the rangers were doing. However, those with a more intimate understanding of the case may find more to enjoy here. Also, this was a buddy cop film but the film failed to create an interesting enough dynamic between Hamer and Gault due to a lack of character development, leading their stories to never get off the ground (maybe because there wasn’t much material there to begin with).
The story may have been lacking but the best part of the film, being Costner and Harelson’s chemistry as Hamer and Gault respectively, at least kept things fun and interesting to watch, however, there’s only so much they can do. Costner and Harelson were good here while commanding the screen, however, it was simply hard to care about either of their characters. Being a part buddy cop film, we have to care about the characters. This film would give us very little reason to do so, relying on cliches and derivative subplots.
Overall, The Highwaymen is a a dull mystery drama, telling a story that arguably didn’t have to be told. The slow pace and longer running time may make it feel like a chore to watch for some. Costner and Harelson will surely be worth the price of admission for some and they definitely did not disappoint here, however, the film didn’t offer much else as the story and the writing both failed to do them any justice.