Director John Lee Hancock said “The Highwaymen” was 15 years in the making. It is worth every second.
Hancock’s Netflix revival of the 1967 biopic “The Highwaymen” chronicles the events leading up to Texas Rangers Maney Gault and Frank Hamer’s takedown of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow’s 1934 crime spree. Incredible acting and beautiful cinematography enhance the film, taking it from good to great.
Woody Harrelson’s Gault and Kevin Costner’s Hamer are truly stunning. The pair have intense buddy chemistry on screen, and with Harrelson’s one-liners, they are a dynamically funny pair. Harrelson effortlessly shifts from cracking jokes to being deathly serious in the face of their investigation. Costner does an excellent job of portraying Hamer as a legendary Texas Ranger. This is a far cry from the villainous nature assigned to Hamer in the 1967 version. He seriously does the role justice.
Kathy Bates, as Governor Miriam A. Ferguson, is the epitome of a strong Texas woman, and although she is never in frame with Costner and Harrelson, their competing energies give the film magnetic momentum. This is an example of exceptional casting, as the film would have really been missing something without her.
The cinematography in this film is breathtaking. Watching Hamer (Costner) and Gault (Harrelson) fly down Texas highways surrounded by endless plains and brush, it is hard to ignore how much has changed in the 70 years since Bonnie and Clyde were infamously stopped in an out-of-jurisdiction shootout. The care which Hancock has taken to bring the film close to its roots by going to the original location of the shootout to film its reenactment speaks to the level of detail and attention this film received. Truly, there is no parallel.
Hancock and company have done the stories of Maney Gault and Frank Hamer justice in “The Highwaymen,” which will be available for streaming on Netflix March 29.