Netflix releases a trailer for The Highwaymen, in which Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson hunt down two of America’s most infamous criminals, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. The crime drama examines the perspectives of two real-life Texas Rangers, while paying less attention to the Depression-era antagonists who killed at least nine police officers and four civilians while robbing banks throughout the United States.
In 1967, Arthur Penn released the film Bonnie and Clyde, which helped kick off the New Hollywood movement and further glamorized Parker and Barrow. Over the years, photos old and new have romanticized the bank robbers' relationship, which ended abruptly when they were gunned down on May 23, 1934 in Louisiana. Parker was 23-years-old at the time of her death, and Barrow was 25. In 2017, a previously unpublished photo emerged which purportedly shows Bonnie and Clyde embracing in Joplin, Missouri, shortly before they were tracked down. After 102 days of actively pursuing the bank robbers, Texas Ranger Frank Hamer and his six-man posse ultimately located the duo and fired over 100 rounds. In The Highwaymen, directed by John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side), Costner portrays Hamer and Harrelson co-stars as fellow Ranger Maney Gault.
Today, Netflix released The Highwaymen’s trailer, which begins with some light-hearted banter between Costner and Harrelson’s characters as they discuss their battle wounds and health. From there, the clip establishes the appropriate narrative context, while introducing government officials like Kathy Bates’ Ma Ferguson and John Carroll Lynch’s Lee Simmons. By the second half, the trailer details the painstaking investigative efforts of both Hamer and Gault, all the while using quick edits to briefly show Bonnie and Clyde. Overall, The Highwaymen trailer prioritizes mood over flashy visuals, along with the inherent danger faced by the titular lead characters. In the last shot, Harrelson declares: “Clyde may be King, but I’m a Texas Ranger.” See the trailer and poster below.
In 1993, Hancock collaborated with Costner for the Clint Eastwood drama A Perfect World. The road film chronicles a Texas Ranger’s pursuit of a convict, and Hancock wrote the script. While The Highwaymen has a similar premise, the story was written by John Fusco, the scribe behind the Billy the Kid movies Young Guns and Young Guns II. Fusco reportedly pitched The Highwaymen over a decade ago, hoping to shed more light on the Bonnie and Clyde case by telling Hamer’s story. The Highwaymen is set to premiere at South by Southwest next month and will debut on Netflix soon after.
With two established and relevant stars in Costner and Harrelson, The Highwaymen has the potential to be more than just another Western. In addition, both Hancock and Fusco have the resumes to suggest that Frank Hamer’s story is in good hands.