‘The Highwaymen’ Review Haiku: The Long Face of the Law


Brooding Buddy Cops;
In A Script That Lacks Tension;
Could Have Been Much More.


I was sold on this the instant I saw the trailer, as the thought of Woody Harrelson and Kevin Costner together as old school lawmen on the hunt for Bonnie and Clyde sounded like a recipe for a great time. And while it is certainly a well-made two hours of entertainment, it certainly wasn’t what I had hoped for, given all the elements present.

Costner and Harrelson certainly have a curmudgeonly chemistry about them, but there is depth left on the table that is only hinted at, and never truly explored. And despite playing real people who came out of retirement to hunt down the infamous Barrow Gang, their cranky old man banter still came across as cliched, at times. The material they are given just doesnt equal their skills as actors.

The script is problematic in that it is telling an innerently tense story, but there is very little tension in the experience. Where Bonnie and Clyde told the story from the perspective of the robbers and was fairly lighthearted, this takes on an appropriately darker tone, putting the cops trying to stop them in the driver’s seat. I liked the decision to keep Bonnie and Clyde’s faces obscured until their final, fateful moments, but doing so was a risk, as it keeps the viewer forever chasing and never seeing the other side of the pursuit. It is a solid cat-and-mouse plan, but the cats spend more time driving down open roads then finding mice to pounce on. With some work, the screenplay could have been much better.

Hancock does a fine job directing, getting good performances from his cast amidst the script’s limitations. Cinematographer John Schwartzman frames the proceedings admirably, his color tones and shot selection giving a great sense of the Depression-era time frame in which the two leads feel oddly at home. Thomas Newman’s score is the perfect accompaniment, really nailing the mood even further, note by note. From a technical standpoint, I had no complaints.

While I was a bit disappointed in the and results, the individual ingredients are there and they are enjoyable. It’s just the mix that made the meal that felt underwhelming.


The Highwaymen is Written By John Fusco and Directed by John Lee Hancock

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