Written by / 12/08/2019 / No comments / , , , , , , , , , , ,

KEVIN COSTNER & WOODY HARRELSON PLAY 'THE HIGHWAYMEN'

Kevin Costner as a straight-shooter in THE HIGHWAYMEN Year: 2019
Arthur Penn's BONNIE AND CLYDE hasn't really aged all that well. Still entertaining, and reinstating Depression-set gangster films during the counter-culture, it's said to have borrowed the style of French New Wave... But all the phony-looking back-projected driving scenes resemble b-pictures from the time of the couple's reign.

Well this isn't a review of that movie but a much better and more realistic one: THE HIGHWAYAMEN centers on the guy who took down that famous Depression-era bank-robbing couple, and Kevin Costner's Frank Hamer, unlike Denver Pyle in 1967, isn't an inept, vengeful dolt. How the former UNTOUCHABLES star portrays Hamer, you couldn't imagine him captured and humiliated by Warren Beatty's beanpole Barrow. Even the couple look more like they actually did...
Emily Brobst Edward Bossert as a more realistic Bonnie & Clyde in The Highwaymen
Until the familiar bullet-riddled climax, the short, pig-eyed punk and his frail, rabbit-faced dame are only shown in wide shots or are darkened closer up, almost like we're purposefully not seeing the anti-Beatty/Faye Dunaway actors on purpose. Or perhaps because it's not their ride...

With Woody Harrelson as Hamer's more meek and talkative yet frail and bankrupt former partner Maney Gault... who in real life probably wasn't a sarcastic comic relief to Hamer like Harrelson does so naturally... most of the screen time has the veteran Texas Rangers riding long stretches of dusty-gray highway during an often brooding, reposeful journey, recalling the first season of TRUE DETECTIVE...
A disillusioned Woody Harrelson and Kevin Costner in The Highwaymen RATES: ****
But without curse words every second or tons of bloodshed catered to the post-Tarantino generation, it's an antique-green-coated, rural-widescreen, old fashion take on an old fashion story where the violence is built into the violent legend of these two men...

Who were part of the Wild West's final-final days, and had their own reputation albeit nothing close to the white trash crooks they dogged: Only those in law enforcement really knew or cared of the daring exploits of the lawmen while the media played-up the criminal-killers as intrepid victims of circumstance (nothing much has changed), even publishing Bonnie's childish poetry as if she were a celebrity contributor... which in a way, she was... Because of the media!
Woody Harrelson and Kevin Costner in THE HIGHWAYMEN
The best scenes involve whenever Costner's Hamer really concentrates on the investigation process after the "I'm too old for this" mantra wares out, juxtaposed by the usual pretentiously idiotic "Feds" with twice the manpower and technical abilities. One fantastic monologue has Costner's Hamer telling his own backstory to Clyde's father (a desperately sad William Sadler), which in itself could have developed into yet another movie altogether....

And while Hamer and Gault: The Early Years would be great, it's the weathered, experienced, craggy-faced performances of Costner and Harrelson that really makes this tick, and one can't imagine CGI-facelifts like Martin Scorsese's abysmal THE IRISHMAN, also a Netflix Original but with ten times the budget and promotion. In comparison, THE HIGHWAYMEN, although literally/intentionally driving in circles, has an actual destination while hardly ever losing focus.
Kevin Costner as Frank Hamer in THE HIGHWAYMEN
Denver Pyle as Hamer being humiliated by Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty as Bonnie and Clyde
The late Michael J. Pollard, Gene Hackman and a hammy Estelle Parsons in Bonnie & Clyde
"Outlaws and mustangs... They always come home." Kevin Costner, The Highwaymen
Woody Harrelson as Maney Gault in The Highwaymen
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