When Andrew Sterling, a successful black urbanite writer buys a vacation home on a resort in New England the police mistake him for a burglar. After surrounding his home with armed men, ... See full summary »
E. Max Frye
Samuel L. Jackson,
When a promised job for Texan Michael fails to materialise in Wyoming, Mike is mistaken by Wayne to be the hitman he hired to kill his unfaithful wife, Suzanne. Mike takes full advantage of the situation, collects the money and runs. During his getaway, things go wrong, and soon get worse when he runs into the real hitman, Lyle. Written by
When Lyle and Michael are discussing both being in the Marine Corps; Lyle refers to Michael as "soldier" and at the end of the same conversation Micheal calls Lyle, "soldier." It is unlikely that either marine would refer to another Marine as "soldier," but would call him or her "marine", "jarhead", "leatherneck" "devil dog" or even "gyrene" instead. See more »
[Hitman Lyle from Dallas finds Michael laying down in the middle of the road]
What the fuck are you doing?
My car broke down.
Where? I don't see a car.
It's just over that ridge.
'Just over that ridge', huh? Well you're one lucky son of a bitch, aren't you? If I hadn't had my brakes just done, I'd be picking your brains out of my radiator. Fuck.
Look, I hate to ask you this, but do you think you could give me a ride?
I don't know. You're not dangerous, are you?
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Vaguely reminiscent of great 1940's westerns, like "The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre" (1948), "Red Rock West" is a story about conscience, greed, and betrayal. Michael (Nicolas Cage) is a down and out, but honest, young man from Texas who goes west in search of work and money. He finds both, but not in the way he had expected.
The film's screenplay contains plenty of surprises and plot twists. Excellent cinematography, adroit film editing, and moody western music add tension and suspense. The expansiveness of the big sky country provides a wonderful setting. And the acting ranges from good to excellent, with great performances from Dennis Hopper and J.T. Walsh. Dwight Yoakam's specially recorded country/western song provides the film with a strong finale.
Correctly labeled as neo-noir, "Red Rock West" strikes me as being something else, as well. The plot is full of amazing coincidences and improbable timing, so much so that others may regard the screenplay as flawed. Ordinarily, I would agree. In this case, however, when combined with the moody atmosphere, and the fact that the small town of Red Rock seems almost empty of normal daily life, the coincidences and unlikely timing suggest a story that, beyond "noirish", is ... surreal. It's almost as if fate deliberately intervenes with improbable events so as to force Michael to come to grips with himself. From this point of view, the coincidences are not script flaws at all. They are necessary plot points in a nightmarish story of a young man who must confront his own demons ... disguised as other characters.
All we need here is Rod Serling, in a postscript, explaining, in his always clearly enunciated voice, that ... a young man, searching for himself, stops in a small, almost deserted town a thousand miles from nowhere. It's his final layover in a journey to ... the twilight zone.
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