Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson Hunt Bonnie and Clyde in Upcoming Movie
Netflix's 'The Highwaymen' is a much-needed course correction in the telling of the story of the infamous couple
Netflix’s latest push in original programming includes a film that is long overdue.
“The Highwaymen,” set to hit select theaters on March 15 and the streaming service on March 29, stars Kevin Costner (pictured above right) and Woody Harrelson (above left) as two real-life retired Texas Rangers brought in to help capture Bonnie and Clyde, the infamous killer couple.
Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow are probably best known to movie lovers as the slick, good-looking, Depression-era duo at the center of the classic 1967 film starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway in the lead roles.
That movie, directed by Arthur Penn, firmly established the couple’s place in American culture. Instead of being the ruthless cop killers who seemed to care only for each other, the movie set up the two as handsome, smart, anti-Establishment rebels.
To make matters worse — and to really hammer home how gift-wrapped this movie was for the “Flower Power” era — the cops in the film are treated as more monstrous than Jason Voorhees. They practically froth at the mouth when they think of catching Bonnie and Clyde and seem more offended by an impending generation of wise-cracking youngsters than at the death of cops left in the wake of Bonnie and Clyde’s journey.
What has followed Penn’s movie has been decades of cultural love letters to the couple in music, television and film.
While the two seem more like escaped psychopaths out of a Rob Zombie picture in real life, they’re seen by many today as more of a testament to the power of young love.
“Quickly, they commanded the allegiance of Baby Boomers hungry for anti-Establishment heroes, killed (virtually crucified) by ruthless officers out of mean-spirited vengeance. It was an easy generational transference for the nascent boomers to see themselves as so beautiful, so in love, so radical, so entitled to self-expression, so embittered by a failing economic system, so martyred by a crusty older generation that despised them for those attributes exactly,” wrote Pulitzer Prize-winning movie critic Stephen Hunter in a 2009 essay titled “Clyde and Bonnie Died for Nihilism.”
The trailer for “Highwaymen” suggests Costner will bring his usual salty gravitas to the modern-day western, but Hamer is clearly the villain in Penn’s original movie.
Netflix’s “The Highwaymen” appears to be bringing some much-needed truth to the cultural standing of Bonnie and Clyde. Costner stars as Frank Hamer, an ex-Texas Ranger with a plain but authoritative way about him.
The trailer for “Highwaymen” suggests Costner will be bringing his usual salty gravitas to the modern-day western, but Hamer is clearly the villain in Penn’s original movie.
Said Hunter of Hamer, “Hamer was almost a prototype of the kind of man the boomer generation would be taught to distrust, both in life and in fiction. Almost insanely brave and almost unbelievably tough, he was Texas’s most famous man hunter. He wouldn’t sell his life story to the movies; he was too dignified, too suspicious of the alien (even then) West Coast culture and of ‘dramatic license.’ But if he had, John Wayne would have played him, with all 50 of his shoot-outs accounted for, as well as his numerous wounds.”
Directed by John Lee Hancock (“The Alamo,” “The Blind Side”), “The Highwaymen” is finally the movie the Bonnie and Clyde story deserves.
By taking Hamer’s perspective, viewers are able to see Bonnie and Clyde’s crimes for the brutal murders they were.
And who better to play cowboys using old-school tricks to catch a seemingly unstoppable couple than Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson?
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