The Highwaymen, in which a pair of Texas Rangers come out of retirement to catch the infamous outlaws Bonnie and Clyde is not your typical buddy cop movie. Nor is it your standard Bonnie & Clyde fare. In fact, there’s a sense the film doesn’t quite know what it is.
It is at its best when it is essentially a police procedural with the Rangers relying on experience and instinct, methodically hunting down the ruthless killers. And their ruthlessness is laid bare here, juxtaposed unsubtly yet occasionally powerfully with evidence of their celebrity status.
While this perspective is valid and indeed interesting, The Highwaymen at times gets lost when seeking to justify excessive methods used by the authorities. In particular, the more exposition of the Rangers’ violent backstories, the more it comes unstuck. Primarily, this is because the Rangers are never setup as anything other than the heroes of the piece.
There are solid performances from Costner and Harrelson as the leads and the film is well-crafted from a technical standpoint yet in the end, The Highwaymen tries to do a bit too much with a relatively simple story and ends up feeling overlong.