Ewan Gleadow

Review: The Highwaymen

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What could be more interesting than watching Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson running about for two hours, hunting down  Bonnie and Clyde, one of the most prolific crime duos of all time? Quite a lot actually, and after a recent bout with tonsillitis I can safely say Netflix’s new movie, The Highwaymen, is a tiny bit more fun than having tonsillitis. 

By all means does The Highwaymen boast an impressive cast of washed up actors (Kevin Costner, Kathy Bates, William Sadler) but it’s what it manages to do with this cast that will matter in the long run. Not much, is the honest answer. Aside from Costner, the supporting cast are all but forgotten about and the few scenes they receive do nothing to either bolster their profile or make a lasting impact on the movie they’ve been thrown headfirst into.  

But in regard to Costner, in his first mainstream leading role since the time he killed off his career with Waterworld, he gives his all and the results are resoundingly solid. He’s strengthened by a great Woody Harrelson performance, who brings up the rear of this rag-tag buddy duo as they ride across America in search of criminals. It’s a genuine miracle that the two have a solid enough chemistry with one another, with Harrelson downplayed somewhat to leave the limelight mainly on Costner. 

Costner does manage to provide little sparks of unique inspiration that haven’t been seen since The Untouchables. A scene where Frank Hamer (Costner) realises how aged he has become is oddly touching for the few moments it takes up, until you realise it’s more or less cannon fodder for the expected biopic formula. You can’t have a Netflix movie without a tragic leading man background story, can you? 

Overall, this Costner/Harrelson biopic is actually moderately enjoyable. Maybe it was partly to do with feverishly necking antibiotics at an alarming rate, but I did enjoy my time with The Highwaymen. If it means you have to drug yourself up to enjoy it, then I suggest doing so, if only to see the enjoyable chemistry of its two leading characters.

With not much else going for it, the movie relies on performances alone to deliver a solid, albeit lengthy portrayal of the men who brought down Bonnie and Clyde.