Greed is a funny thing isn’t it? Greed will cause the most influential and positive people to turn into the most deceitful and power hungry individuals that are sometimes transformed by a blissful, yet ignorant, opportunity.
With that being said, local brothers Nick and Christopher McGill bring you a movie from McGill Bros. Productions: “The High and Mighty”
The movie follows Conner, a Rockfordian set on becoming the next kingpin in the marijuana game. While out in Los Angeles, he makes a deal with Isaiah, a big time pusher of marijuana across the country. Conner wants Isaiah to schedule stops in Rockford, where Conner can distribute the incredible strands that seem so hard to find in a Midwest town. Conner, looking to make it big, has no idea what path his greed will lead him to: a path of deceit, death, defeat, and betrayal.
The High and Mighty also follows struggling football player turned drug dealer (and drug addict), Damon O’Neal, also known as “Muscle”. Muscle’s growing struggles with his addiction and the fact that Conner is beginning to branch out on his own creates an invasion of his personality. He no longer worries about his own life, but only worries about getting revenge, more money, and more drugs.
I will not provide an entire summary of the movie for you to read (watch the movie below), however, I will provide insight into the message of the film.
The message revolves around greed, and discovers the hidden agendas within all of us when we see an opportunity for money and wealth. The movie also explores what friendships really mean in the presence of opportunity for fortunes. At one point in the movie, Conner punches his friend Charles and says “With the best of friends, you get the best of both worlds, you can’t love them so close without hating them sometimes”. In addition to hurting relations with his friends, Conner’s girlfriend also struggles with his actions on the streets and his friends, and tries to be the change that she knows he needs.
The McGill brothers understand what Rockford means to the region: a city or gateway to other major cities in the Midwest. Milwaukee, Madison, Dubuque, and Chicago, among others. This means that Rockford itself is a stopping point for commerce between these major cities for businesses, tourism, and unfortunately for Rockford, that also means the transportation of drugs through our city. We’ve become a “Gateway City”, in reference to marijuana being a “gateway” drug, whereas the distribution to other cities could very well begin in Rockford. This is what Conner sees as an opportunity, bringing marijuana to Rockford while Isaiah’s drivers pass through the Midwest.
But what happens when Conner is forced to go back to Rockford and start distributing his “goods”? Well, the worst happens. Muscle seemed to have intervened the transport of the marijuana, and paid to have PCP laced into the product, eventually causing one unlucky girl to overdose and die.
What made matters even worse, Conner used $20,000 in ‘student loan’ money to buy that product, but finds out that the money actually came out of pocket from those who took care of him. They said they didn’t tell Conner it was out of pocket because they wanted him to value the money…
The detective interviewing Conner (whoops, did I just tell you he got caught?) says it best: “You demonstrated a textbook definition of what happens to people in your lifestyle: dead or in prison.”
So what does this movie tell us? It tells us that any amount of money or wealth achieved through means of hurting others, will only end up bringing you down to the gutter in the end. Unfortunately, there are many in Rockford who see selling drugs as the only way of making money and moving up in the world. I believe that the McGill brothers took the opportunity of making this film to show that while one may live a lavish lifestyle, greed will eventually be the death of all those that partake in the actions that Conner, Isaiah, and Damon O’Neal took.
MY PERSONAL OPINION
First off, I was honored to be asked by Christopher McGill to review this movie. The first time I watched The High and Mighty, I was unsure of how I felt about it. I hadn’t yet grasped the message they were putting forth, and so I was a bit disappointed when I found the movie to be confusing. But the message came across to me as I spoke with others in the community who had seen the movie. We discussed the facts of Rockford’s location and its connection to major cities in the Midwest. Currently, there is a heroin “epidemic” in Rockford, as discussed in the news, which relays that idea of Rockford being a “Gateway” city.
And so I watched the movie again, and again. I played it in the background so I could feel and track the emotions of the characters. I was impressed with the unique style of the shots. Conner’s narrative provided a much-needed backdrop and viewpoint of what was going on around him. His struggles with his girlfriend and his inherently good personality clashed with his greediness to make money. Muscle’s football fame brought him down into depression and drugs to the point the only way he seen to get out was to murder Isaiah, and then murder himself.
I give the movie 3.5 out of 5 stars, considering its local heritage and the message being portrayed. What could have been done better? I think building a more comprehensive relationship between all of the characters would be essential in making this movie into one that can be shown throughout the country. I didn’t feel a deep connection with the characters, except Conner, albeit small. I also feel that the movie could have used so much more dialog to better connect the characters (for instance, I don’t think that Conner and Muscle appeared in the same scene together, except for a dream that Conner had, so this made me feel that although they were connected somehow, I wasn’t sure how or why), although I understand that many shots were removed from the movie, resulting in a lower running time.
What did I enjoy most? The rawness of the story. The idea that greed will ultimately betray ourselves. I also enjoyed the acting, very professional by all who took part. I did not once think that an actor or actress in the movie was being “an obvious actor”. My favorite acting part was from Damon’s girlfriend, who was showing regret that their future had ended up where it was, considering where it began. The movie itself was very realistic as well. There are people out there committing the same actions that Conner, Isaiah, and Muscle committed, and will most likely end up with the same consequence. Enjoy!
McGill Original Films & Soleternity Productions present “The High and Mighty”
Score by Soleternity
Additional Score by Phivestarr Productions
Score arranged by Nick McGill & Soleternity
Key Grip Kyle Schneider
Written by Christopher McGill
Screenplay by Christopher McGill, Michael Conner, & Nick McGill
Produced by Christopher McGill, Nick McGill
Directed, Shot & Cut by Nick McGill