‘The Highwaymen’ depicts unique angle about the death of Bonnie and Clyde

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‘The Highwaymen’ depicts unique angle about the death of Bonnie and Clyde

Woody Harrelson (left) and Kevin Costner (right) in the film

Woody Harrelson (left) and Kevin Costner (right) in the film

Courtesy of Merrick Morton/Netflix

Woody Harrelson (left) and Kevin Costner (right) in the film

Courtesy of Merrick Morton/Netflix

Courtesy of Merrick Morton/Netflix

Woody Harrelson (left) and Kevin Costner (right) in the film

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Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Chestnut Barrow, better known as the infamous pair of partners-in-crime Bonnie and Clyde, were known for their string of murders during the 1930s, but it was Frank Hamer and Maney Gault who pulled the trigger and fatally shot the couple in order to finally end their killing spree.

The story of Hamer and Gault, who were hired to execute the notorious members of the Barrow Gang, is told in the Netflix original film “The Highwaymen.”

The movie centers around the two Texas Rangers, Hamer, who is played by Kevin Costner, and Gault, who is played by Woody Harrelson, who are hired by the governor to hunt down and kill Bonnie and Clyde in 1934. The drama, directed by John Lee Hancock and written by John Fusco, chronicles the highwaymen’s ambitious quest of tracking the country’s most sought-after murderers.

The closer Hamer and Gault got to catching Bonnie and Clyde, the more eerie and suspenseful the film’s tone became. Each scene slowly builds from the last until it depicts the final standoff between the highwaymen and the Barrow Gang members, where the outlaws are killed by a spray of bullets while they are inside their automobile.

The film ends with the car, full of bullet holes, steadily moving down a street in Arcadia, Louisiana, with the bloody, dead bodies still in the front seats for all the townspeople to see. Although the sight of their corpses is gory and frightening, the somber music that plays in the background mixed with shots of the highwaymen watching the crowd’s terrified reactions from a distance maintains the film’s quiet nature.

Oftentimes, crime films drown out the plot by including an excessive amount of action or violence, but “The Highwaymen” avoided unnecessary theatrics to focus on the actual storyline. Although the movie tackles intense subject matter and includes its share of violent scenes, overall, it is a hushed film that flourished due to its brilliantly written script and talented group of actors.

The star-studded cast exemplified superb acting as each person dove into their historic character. Harrelson was excellent in his serious portrayal of Gault, which is relatively different from some of his previous roles, such as Mr. Burner, the laid-back teacher in his one of his most recent films “The Edge of Seventeen” and his iconic part as Woody Boyd in the hit TV sitcom “Cheers.”

Co-stars Harrelson and Costner also gave an admirable performance together as they portrayed two men with a close relationship and strong chemistry due to their shared experience of working to complete the difficult task.

Although Kathy Bates’ role of Gov. Miriam “Ma” Ferguson was smaller, she conveyed a commanding and confident persona as a leader, especially in the beginning of the film when she made the tough decision to hire Hamer and Gault for the daunting job.

Gorgeous establishing shots of the wide-open road, flat plain lands and the highwaymen’s vintage Ford automobile are included throughout the movie. The filmmakers skillfully used cinematography to make even the dullest locations seem picturesque.

The breathtaking set and costume design captured the essence of poverty-stricken depression-era America at this time. For example, when the pair of Texas rangers venture into an insolvent community that looks identical to a Dorothea Lange photograph, they encounter people living in tents covered with dirt and grime.

Most people are familiar with the story of Bonnie and Clyde, but it is rare to ponder the men responsible for their abrupt ending. The film examines a piece of history through an unexplored lens, which is what makes for a fascinating and interesting angle.

“The Highwaymen” was released in March 2019 and is now available for streaming on Netflix.

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