Netflix Picks: ‘The Highwaymen’


Woody Harrleson (“Maney Gault”) and Kevin Costner (“Frank Hamer”) in “The Highwaymen.” (Hilary B Gayle/Netflix)

Samantha Dickerson, Lifestyles Editor

Buddy-cop, comedy, thriller, action, mystery and suspense; do any of these genres sound like a movie about two 60-year-olds who lose their breath when they jog? If it does and it is not horribly cheesy, you may be watching “The Highwaymen,” Netflix’s latest in a series of film releases that have heart.

“The Highwaymen” follows the story of two of the most infamous gangsters ever known, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, from the eyes of the officers that are trying to catch them. It portrays the gangsters in contrast to how the world has envisioned them in pop culture as revered and beloved. 

After Parker and Barrow commit a series of needless and twisted execution-style murders against police officers, the two aged-out Texas Rangers, Frank Hamer and Maney Gault, must come out of retirement to track them down and end their terrible spree. “The Highwaymen” stars Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson as Frank Hamer and Maney Gault respectively.

The friendship of Costner and Harrelson’s characters is a powerful dynamic that carries most of the film. The beginning of this movie is heavily invested in insinuated emotions and there are very few lines, so it was imperative that the two have a connection. The two characters have a deep past working with each other and working for the state of Texas as Rangers, and they often only speak to each other through looks. 

One idea that this film brings to the table which is interesting is how the guilt and shame of having a traumatic job can play a role in self-worth. Both of the characters have something that they never worked through before their retirement. Harrelson plays the softer, caring character who has guilt for his actions as a Ranger. His character is relied upon to elicit the emotion from the viewers, while Costner’s aloof, stone-cold features foil Harrelson perfectly. Costner’s character, Hamer, is angry that officers are being killed and that he no longer feels purpose in his life or that he can stop it. Their age and retirement has forced them to think about their actions and neither are good at having nothing to do. 

The actors pull off some of the more difficult dialogue that this film has. In one scene, Gault is explaining the first time he met Hamer. The Rangers needed to kill a group of bandits that had murdered and raped citizens. He recalled being told to shoot without warning and killing a 13-year-old boy on accident. The scene zooms in on Harrelson’s face and everyone is shocked to silence, while Costner smokes a cigarette from the background. 

The way in which Parker and Barrow’s characters are portrayed is a strong feature of the movie. While Costner and Harrelson bring a light-hearted air to the film, the scenes depicting murder, the music accompaniment and the angles at which the murders are shot are done in a horror/thriller/suspense genre manner. At one point, Parker walks up to a peace officer and kicks him with her foot so he is looking up. He prays to God, and she shoots him in the head. These scenes make this movie a contender and have a powerful impact on the viewers.

Although this film deals with sensitive subject matter, there are points of comedy in this movie as well that make it feel like a buddy-cop comedy. As far as the dialogue and gages are concerned, they can get a little worn out. Some of the bits that were written into this movie to “prove” that the men have gotten old are overdone, but luckily they had two beloved and talented actors playing lead so they could get away with it.

One of the running gags in this movie is that Gault pees about 100 times during this movie, and even gets attacked in a bathroom as a result. Hamer snores and is grumpy all the time. They are basically the grandpas they need to be; however, Harrelson and Costner are only 57 and 64 in real life. This is not really comparable to some other movies, like “The Mule” with Clint Eastwood, who is 88, which is a little more impressive; however, they are just under the line of being truly “old” so it doesn’t take away from the movie as much as it could have if both actors had been in their fifties.