- Don Ford
Don Reviews "The Highwaymen"
Sometimes, criminals who commit horrible acts get a strange level of support from the public to the point where they basically become folk heroes like Billy the Kid and Jesse James. There are even festivals where they celebrate people like the infamous B. D. Cooper, even though people know the true atrocities committed by these people but choose to believe what they want sometimes over the facts. Living in Texas, we hear a bit about Bonnie and Clyde, and the story of the men who brought them down is the center of director John Lee Hancock’s (The Alamo) new film, “The Highwaymen”.
Starring Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson as Frank Hamer and Maney Gault (respectively) as two retired Texas Rangers, they are called back into the game as Texas Governor “Ma” Ferguson (Kathy Bates), tired of the crime spree of Bonnie and Clyde, commissions them to do what it takes to catch them. Under the watch of Lee Simmons (John Carroll Lynch), they hit the road to track down the infamous duo. (If you know your U.S. history, you know how this ends.)
The film takes place mostly in early 20th Century Texas, and it shows the area in a very good way. I was truly impressed with how period correct all the props in the movie were, and I can only the budget they had to get all the classic cars used along with the fact that the majority of shooting took place in Louisiana. The majority of the story focuses on Costner and Harrelson’s characters, and they do well with Costner channeling a 1930’s version of Wyatt Earp (a character he has played before in its purest sense) and Harrelson also does well in playing the washed-up law man needing another chance (also a type of character he has played before in productions like “True Detective”). It was great seeing the dramatic style of Hamer and not-so-formal Gault work off of each other along with a huge supporting cast, who compliment them well.
At just over two hours long, “The Highwaymen” did not seem it, and I liked how the it shows the hunt for the criminals instead the film being about the criminals themselves. By focusing on how law enforcement tries to think like a criminal, the story kept me interested up until the pay off. There are some realistically violent scenes to drive its points home along the way to reinforce Bonnie and Clyde’s impact on the people who were living in what would become the Great Depression as they were seen as modern Robin Hoods, no matter how much of that they were not. As this is a Netflix release, I will definitely recommend “The Highwaymen,” but with our scale, I would recommend it as a twilight to full price showing in the theaters.