Everyone has heard the story of Bonnie and Clyde, but not like this.
Netflix’s “The Highwaymen” is taking the classic tale and switching the perspective. It follows the story of two former Texas Rangers, Frank Hamer (Kevin Costner) and Maney Gault (Woody Harrelson) pulled out of retirement to catch the killer couple.
The story begins pretty far into Bonnie and Clyde’s crime spree. Authorities were getting desperate, and as a last resort Texas governor Ma Ferguson (Kathy Bates) begrudgingly enlisted the help of a Ranger. Hamer, still rusty from retirement, met up with an old buddy, and the hunting began.
The movie follows the facts of the case, doing little to embellish what actually happened. The shift, however, was that it was told almost entirely from the highwaymen’s point of view. Bonnie and Clyde themselves were only in a handful of scenes, offering a fresh view of something so well known.
The flip is nice, but to be honest, most stories follow Bonnie and Clyde directly for a reason. The movie, clocking in at over two hours, dragged at a lot of points. There was a lot of sitting in cars and looking at maps which is the truth behind the situation, but it’s not the most thrilling thing to watch.
That being said, it was still a good movie.
Director John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks) put his dramatic skills to work, utilizing an array of camera angles and soundtracks that made you feel like you were there. The sets were gorgeous and spectacularly historically accurate, all the while showing what life was like for both common and well-off Southerners during The Great Depression.
The acting was strong as well, but nothing was very shocking. Both Costner and Harrelson were playing roles they filled naturally, but they managed to nail the idiomatic Southern dialogue without it sounding too forced.
They were good, but what else would you expect?
The film also did something different in portraying the duo as the enemy. There was no Robin Hood twist like other tellings (and real life). Instead they showed the facts — they stole, they killed, they wreaked havoc. In a starved economy, they were the people’s criminals, but they were just as brutal as the rest.
As a whole, the movie reads more historical drama than other versions, but if you’re a fan of crime shows “The Highwaymen” may be right up your alley. It finally takes the glitz and glam away from the classic tale, but it takes some of the appeal with it too.