The Highwaymen 2019 drama crime
This Netflix original film has a terrific adult script—and something to say about setting the historical record straight. In a nutshell, The Highwaymen tells the true story of retired Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, who is pressed back into active duty in 1934 to hunt down Bonnie and Clyde as their bloody crime spree enters its third year. Before reliable two-way radios for police cars and communication between various police departments, Clyde Barrow exploited backroads, state lines, a Ford V8, and plenty of firepower to keep his gang on the road. Frank Hamer, a seasoned manhunter, decided to hit the road just like the Barrow gang and trail them, learning their patterns—and driven by the conviction born of experience that “outlaws and mustangs always return home.” Hamer (Kevin Costner) is joined by his ex-partner and veteran Ranger, Maney Gault (Woody Harrelson). The two lawmen have some of the very best screen chemistry and dialogue I have seen this year. The film attacks the myth of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow as the sexy desperados depicted in the 1967 film. In this version, the criminal duo is kept in the shadows until the end of the movie. Retelling Bonnie and Clyde from the point of view of the actual good guys of the story is a superb idea that took far too long to come to screen. Director John Lee Hancock seems to have cared deeply about restoring Frank Hamer and Maney Gault to their proper place in American history as real life, crime fighting heroes. Hancock’s skill for historical films (Alamo) is well established, and once again highly successful in The Highwaymen. From the beginning to the brutal ending, the film is akin to a time travel machine that brings to life the mostly forgotten days of early 1930’s Prohibition era America.