John Lee Hancock directs The Highwaymen, a crime drama that removes the mystique around famed bank robbers and sociopathic murderers Bonnie and Clyde. After a brief stint in the theaters, it landed on Netflix.
In 1934, Bonnie (Emily Brobst) and Clyde (Edward Bossert) lead a prison breakout, prompting Texas Department of Corrections chief Lee Simmons (John Carroll Lynch) to convince Texas Governor “Ma” Ferguson (Kathy Bates) to hire former Texas Ranger Frank Hammer (Kevin Costner) into tracking them down as the FBI has failed at every turn. Since the Texas Rangers have disbanded, Hammer is, at first, not interested, but after hearing about two more murders, he agrees to become a deputized ‘highwayman.’ Hammer reluctantly recruits his former partner Benjamin Maney Gault (Woody Harrelson) to help.
The two of them begin to chase the criminals. Everywhere they go, they are finding out that the people and the press are seemingly praising the criminals, despite their murderous intentions.
Kevin Costner is always hit or miss with me, but this was not only a hit, it was a home-run. He is perfect as Frank Hammer, capturing the veteran lawman in every aspect. Likewise, Harrelson does an excellent job as his partner, a jaded and wounded lawman who has seen too many deaths.
My only problem with the film was its start. While it has a great opening, the film slows down while it sets up Hammer and Gault. It is meant to show the lives they are living during the Great Depression, but it could have been about ten minutes shorter. However, once they start chasing Bonnie and Clyde, the movie kicks into high gear.
This movie dodges similar attempts in media to glamorizes Bonnie and Clyde into their day’s version of Robin Hood. Films previously ignored the brutal murders that took place during their bank robberies and tried to disguise them as youths out to punish the “evil banks.” Instead, it delivers the cold-hard truth. Clyde was a sociopathic murderer who shot a gas station attendant in the face for four dollars. Bonnie was just as dark, shooting wounded men in the back and in the face while smiling. It was refreshing to see this myth busted in a movie which praises masculine lawmakers who are trying to stop a killing spree from claiming any more lives.
Bottom line, this movie is an excellent case study of two lawmen who were once celebrated cowboys, but now are seen as old-timey interlopers by modern politics and law enforcement. However, they ignore these sleights and show their worth as Texas Rangers in order to catch a ruthless outlaw and his lover.
FAVORITE QUOTE: Clyde may be king, but I’m a Texas Ranger.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Violence, Foul language
Check out the movie trailer below:
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