SXSW 2019 Review: THE HIGHWAYMEN

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

From director John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, The Founder) comes this supposed historically accurate portrait of the lawmen who stopped infamous criminals Bonnie and Clyde. This movie, which screened at this year’s SXSW Film Festival, gets an Austin theatrical run on March 22 and will be available for streaming on Netflix on March 29. Though the movie isn’t as remarkable or iconic as Arthur Penn’s Bonnie & Clyde, it does make for a moderately entertaining piece of historical cinema. It also certainly helps that both Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson are both great in it.

During the Great Depression, Clyde Barrow (Edward Bossert) and Bonnie Parker (Emily Brobst) hit the road, robbed banks, and killed people in multiple states. This crime spree frustrated law enforcement, but also earned them many fans. Desperate to end the violence, Texas Governor Miriam “Ma” Ferguson (Kathy Bates) approves the hiring of retired Texas Ranger Frank Hamer (Costner) and ex-partner Maney Gault (Woody Harrelson) to stop them. Though these veteran lawmen have remained mostly inactive for some time, they manage to make some history of their own.

With a script by John Fusco, Hancock has made a solid film with The Highwaymen. As I previously stated, Hancock doesn’t necessarily try to make a game-changer of a movie, but hopes to offer audiences a more honest portrayal of the Rangers who managed to catch up with Bonnie and Clyde and kill them. The film does run unnecessarily too long which does take away from the overall impact. However, the development of its lead characters, along with the humor, action and tension keeps it all entertaining.

Both Woody Harrelson and Kevin Costner perform well and share a genuine chemistry. As “Ma” Ferguson, Kathy Bates offers some tough talking attitude, as well as some comic relief. Thomas Mann brings some boyish charm to his role as Ted Hinton. In addition to these talented actors, the film also features great work by John Carrol Lynch, Kim Dickens, William Sadler, and W. Earl Brown.

As I mentioned before, the film will be available for viewing in some theaters, followed by its availability on Netflix. My honest recommendation is to watch it via Netflix. Though it is a decent movie, nothing about it begs to be watched on the big screen. The fact that the movie feels a little long winded, makes for a better viewing in the comfort of one’s home.

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