Directed by John Lee Hancock (The Founder, 2016), The Highwaymen introduces us to the famous Frank Hamer, played by Kevin Costner (Mr. Brooks, 2007), and Maney Gault, played by Woody Harrelson (True Detective, 2014), two Texas Rangers who went down in American history for putting an end to the misdeeds of the thieves Bonnie and Clyde.
At first, the film was intended to be starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman, but due to the passing of Newman in 2008, Redford abandoned the project. Later, Netflix ended up producing the movie and released it on March 9th, 2019.
The Highwaymen is a good example of the genre contemporary westerns and, although it is based on the story of Bonnie and Clyde, the movie doesn’t focus on these characters. Hancock leaves the action aside to focus in his narrative intentions which is the slow progress of the investigation and the subsequent tracking of the criminals, with a script close to the real case.
Although his characters are not explored in great depth, the performances of Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson are the best trait of the movie. Both presents us with two old men, unfit for their work, each one dealing with retirement in a different way. It is pretty interesting to observe how these realities interact with each other and find a middle ground in the stoicism that both characters face in the new challenge.
With a pacing that sometimes feels slow, the scenes that stand out the most are usually focused on key performances by the main actors. The story turns out to be a preparation for the execution of Bonnie and Clyde, giving us a very effective ending, filmed in the exact place where the events took place in 1934.
Like many other criminals, the story of Bonnie and Clyde has been romanticized over the years. The Highwaymen breaks the myth of the duo as a Robin Hood type of deal and tray to be a film more attached to the facts. We recommend the movie if you want to learn more about the criminal duo or if you want to enjoy an interesting contemporary western.