Netflix is becoming the streaming platform for crime stories. After several of its ilk, Netflix brings to us The Highwaymen, a Netflix Original about the infamous shootout that killed Bonnie and Clyde, probably two of the world’s first mass murderers and spree killers.
The film stars Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson as two retired Texas Rangers – who are brought back by the local sheriff to do away with Bonnie and Clyde – criminals who have a fan following of their own.
The Highwaymen relies on the idea that not much has been written or shot about the politics in the crime solving community in the 1930s, that the four men who finally did away with Bonnie and Clyde never had a day in the sun, so on and so forth.
In fact, the title should have been ‘Only The Highway Men’. The murders that Bonnie and Clyde committed, are portrayed on screen in a human-less, third perspective version. We don’t even see the faces of the criminals until the last scene – and then too, the reaction on their face is more like how deer look at the headlights of a car.
The Highwaymen also comes through with two clichés that are by now staple for crime and criminals. One is a monologue that depicts the greatness of one of the characters, and another is the argument scene between two people on the opposite side.
The problem with The Highwaymen is the film doesn’t exactly know what genre it wants to place itself in. It can’t be a comedy because the subject material is one of the bloodiest in criminal history. It can’t be a western actioner. Because with all the cowboy hats and guns and ammos talk, the only scene with guns that can be historically correct is the one where Bonnie and Clyde meet their end – with the way the film’s being treated.
The Highwaymen is gritty and a good take on crime and criminals. Audiences are a bit weary of the glorification or even magnification of the life and times of the criminals. The discussion between Costner’s character and Clyde’s father should be a benchmark for all pro-con discussions about human beings becoming criminals.
This could be the subject material, but its not a western actioner you are looking for.
Cast: Kevin Costner, Woody Harrelson
Director: John Lee Hancock
Parting Shot: The Highwaymen is not an action westerner
You can watch ‘The Highway Men’ on Netflix.