Review: Chase goes slow in 'The Highwaymen'

Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson star as the lawmen tasked with bringing down Bonnie and Clyde

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic
Woody Harrelson and Kevin Costner in "The Highwaymen."

A Bonnie and Clyde story about the two men who took the notorious couple down, "The Highwaymen" is an overlong police procedural that lacks punch. 

Kevin Costner is Frank Hamer, the former Texas Ranger hired to go back on assignment and put an end to Bonnie and Clyde's reign of terror. Woody Harrelson is Maney Gault, Frank's former partner whom he enlists to help him take down the couple, who by 1934 had been on the run for two years and had become cultural icons. 

But they weren't heroes, they were killers, and Frank is the craggy old son-of-a-gun who has to remind those worshiping the couple of the crimes they'd committed, including taking down 10 lawmen and three civilians. 

Frank and Maney are older and slower than the younger cops on Bonnie and Clyde's trail, but their old school tactics are tried and true. "Outlaws and mustangs, they always come home," Frank says, one of his sayings which could be embroidered on a pillow. But that philosophy leads him to Clyde's hometown in Louisiana, where he takes down Clyde and his paramour in a hail of bullets.

"The Highwaymen" is built to play off the chemistry of Costner and Harrelson, but the pair lacks flair, and settle too easily into cranky buddy cop clichés. 


The handling of Bonnie and Clyde is smart; we mostly trail them as Frank and Maney do, and never see them clearly until they're face-to-face with justice. 

Director John Lee Hancock was the screenwriter on Costner's "A Perfect World," in which Costner's character was on the run from a Texas Ranger. There's a nice piece of synchronicity there, but it doesn't help "The Highwaymen" rise above the realm of ordinary.  

'The Highwaymen'


Rated R: for some strong violence and bloody images

Running time: 132 minutes

On Netflix