Kevin Costner's new Bonnie and Clyde film reminds you just how cold-blooded these killers were
The eagerly-awaited film is now on Netflix
It may have been 85 years since Bonnie and Clyde met their maker via a hail of bullets near Bienville Parish, Louisiana, but their story continues to intrigue.
At the height of their crimewave during the Great Depression, the duo were hailed as 'Robin Hood figures' whilst stealing from banks - a point explored in a new Netflix film depicting the pursuit of the infamous duo, The Highwaymen.
It's ironic then, that a man who has previously played Robin Hood is pursuing them in the film.
Of course, the fact that the banks were repossessing so many homes at the time led to a massive surge of support from the public towards the outlaws. An attitude of 'they're just robbing the people that are robbing us' prevailed, but there's no escaping the truth.
Bonnie and Clyde were cold-blooded killers and their gang is believed to have murdered at least nine police officers and several civilians.
The outlaws made headlines. The lawmen made history.
The Highwaymen tells the untold true story of the legendary detectives who brought down Bonnie and Clyde. When the full force of the FBI and the latest forensic technology aren’t enough to capture the nation’s most notorious criminals, two former Texas Rangers, Frank Hamer and Maney Gault (Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson) must rely on their gut instincts and old school skills to get the job done.
While the film is set in 1934, its themes do have a strange resonance to the modern era. Hell, Netflix had to remind people who were attracted to Ted Bundy that he was a serial killer. Romanticising criminals and murders has been a common theme on the big screen over the years.
In the film, adoring crowds swarm around Bonnie and Clyde’s car, preventing the police from getting a clear shot. These criminals are treated like movie stars and the film doesn't shirk away from depicting violence.
It's telling that we rarely get to see Bonnie and Clyde in a close-up.
The focus is very much on the men that are out to get them.
Writer John Fusco spent time with Frank Hamer Jr to get the story right as just like Bonnie and Clyde, Hamer's story is every bit as gripping.
A Texas Ranger Captain widely hailed as one of the most fearless men in the West, Hamer is a towering figure in American history who began his Ranger career on horseback.
Hamer’s measures were extreme but necessary to bring order to lawless oil boomtowns in the 1920s or to go up against the KKK.
Before he reached the age of 50, Hamer had known both ends of a gun, having himself been shot over a dozen times and reportedly left for dead on a few occasions. Credited with having killed between 40 and 70 people, Hamer is a Texas Ranger Hall of Fame inductee and three of his brothers were also Texas Rangers.
When JOE met Kevin Costner ahead of the film's release, we were curious to see how he wanted to reclaim the reputation of Frank Hamer because in the 1967 film, Hamer is depicted as something of a bumbling idiot.
"Bonnie and Clyde were cold-blooded killers but the '67 film about them didn't get my character (Frank Hamer) right," said Costner.
"They didn't get him right, which is a shame because he's thought of as the most legendary Texas Ranger but he's a killer. He's a quiet person that's just built for this pursuit. We're very lucky that he's on the right side of the law. He probably killed over 100 people, nobody knows. This was a guy that was brought out of retirement because the authorities couldn't catch Bonnie and Clyde.
"That seems funny because with today's technology, we'd probably catch them in an hour but for three, four years, they were on the run. There were no radios and even if the police did have one, there was nobody to talk to because they didn't have two! Stuff like that kind of blows your mind."
While The Highwaymen won't reinvent the gangster genre, it does appeal to anyone who loves old-fashioned police drama. There are moments when not an awful lot happens and things drag, but Costner and Harrelson's effortless charm keep you engaged.
"There was no asphalt in America, it was just dirt roads and society was moving from horses to cars," Costner added.
The Highwaymen is now available to watch on Netflix.