After being indicated for the first time this year for an Oscar on one of its production, Netflix continues to be keen on producing high-quality movies. One of the most recent is The Highwaymen, released at 10th March of 2019 in the USA by South West Film Festival and directed by John Lee Hancook.
With a slight feeling of an old western, this crime film is surrounded by mystery and drama. It tells the story of the pursuit from two of the most wanted iconic criminals – Bonnie and Clyde – in midwest of the United States of America, during the 30’s, who were chased by two retired Ranger Texas, invited to return to the action at the request of the government.
Based in real facts, the viewers can have the perspective of the mercenaries Frank Hamer and Maney Gault, crossing the states of USA searching for new clues that could lead to the detention of the Barrow gang. This group is headed by the couple Bonnie and Clyde, two massive thieves and assassins that are escaping from authorities for two years, assaulting banks, helping prisoners escaping and killing in big number police agents without hesitation.
Seen as heroes in all America, in the era of Big Depression, a time when the broken economy and the failure of the capitalist system led to massive poverty, Bonnie and Clyde were idolized for being, allegedly, thieves that stole from banks, being compared with the legendary Robin Wood. Nonetheless, they actually never redistributed the money by the poor and opposite to the myths created that romanced the duo, they were responsible for some cold blood murders.
They fame had a peak so high that we can see multiple times, the harassment that the people give to them when they are seen around the towns. Furthermore, this isn’t even the 1st movie about them. In 1967, Bonnie and Clyde, with Warren Beaty and Faye Dunaway, was a success in theatres and won two Oscars at the Academy Awards. Now Netflix picks the same story but portrays the outlaws as villains.
In The Highwaymen, we have the main focus on the law agents, interpreted by Kevin Costner, in the role of the captain Frank Hamer and by Woody Harrelson as his partner Maney Gault. Brought as an ultimate solution, they reunite like the old times, where they were very well known for solving cases in fashion and killing the criminals, during the ‘Public Enemies Era’.
Set in 1934, we can witness in this movie some frantic persecutions around the plateaus of Texas, where the protagonists are restricted by the juridical space. Blocked to go beyond the state borders, they need to reorganize the plan. Camouflaged as special traffic cops, they follow the motto that catching criminals is the same as chasing horses, because both can run away, but they always return home.
With a lot of references about American pop culture, since the spoken script until the visual impact, we can see some of one massive propaganda, since the advertising market boomed in the mid 20’s and early 30’s. Coca-Cola, Camel and Ford, not only because all the car scenes are done in these vehicles, as well as the reference about the letter written and sent by Clyde for the brand.
Critical of some state bureaucracies, full of brutal violence and rivers of blood, the incredible acting by the cast along with the addressing and the spiritual soundtrack, send us back at Texas in the Great Depression. These are for sure the main reasons behind the success that already is sprouting a lot of critics and controversial opinions online, about the veracity of the facts.
In the charge of the argument we have John Fusco, known for writing the series “Marco Polo,” who can do easily the strategy of putting from nowhere some comic lines without losing any drama in the narrative. That is what makes the movie not so heavy the whole time.
Still, The Highwaymen reaches a modest score of 7.1 in IMDB, while it has a considerably worst punctuation of 51 % by the critical reviews in Rotten Tomatoes. Released only on Netflix so far worldwide, the movie had though a limited theatrical release in the US, but it is not possible to know the box office results yet.
In the credits we can see some footage about one of the most memorable endings in cinema, where the law enforcers, without shyness, make an ambush in the middle of one highway in Louisiana and shoot the bandits in the car several hundred times. This was the famous bloody scene in Bonnie and Clyde that created a landmark and a new era in Hollywood.