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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
Entertaining film noir thriller packed with numerous twists, turns and surprises
"Red Rock West" was far and away one of the best suspense thrillers of the 90's with a superb script (by John and Rick Dahl) that kept you guessing throughout and on the edge of your seat for most of the film. It was brilliantly directed by John Dahl and featured a marvellous cast including Nicolas Cage, Dennis Hopper, Lara Flynn Boyle and especially J. T. Walsh (in a memorable performance) making this a riveting and captivating thriller not to be missed. The film never had much publicity on release (in fact I first caught up with it on TV) and is therefore one of those special little gems that you have to seek out but this unique film is now slowly gaining a cult following.
Nicolas Cage is Michael Williams who is broke and out of work when he finds himself in the small town of Red Rock. Mistaken for a contract killer named Lyle from Dallas he is shocked to be offered $10,000 to murder the wife of bar owner Wayne Brown (the excellent J. T. Walsh). He plays along with the plan and decides he should go and warn Brown's wife Suzanne (Lara Flynn Boyle) but then the plot thickens and there are so many twists, turns and surprises - and double dealings - that Cage is thrown from one crisis to another and finds himself trapped in a terrible situation he can't drag himself out of! Then just to complicate matters even further the real Lyle turns up to carry out the contract killing (played by everyone's favourite heavy Dennis Hopper). When Hopper discovers what has happened he goes after Cage but no one could forsee the surprising events that follow.
Some favourite lines from the film:
Nicolas Cage (to Lara Flynn Boyle): "I hate to see an innocent woman get hurt but it's an awful lot of money".
J. T. Walsh (to Cage): "Michael Williams. Well, Michael, you're going to be spending some time with us till we get to the bottom of this".
Boyle (to Cage): "You're not a killer?". Cage: "That's right, no. But the guy I'm supposed to be just rode into town so you gotta get out of here".
Boyle (to Cage): "O.K. How you're going to explain impersonating a hired killer and taking $10,000 from my husband?".
An extraordinarily entertaining little thriller (just 98 minutes) with a storyline that never lets up and powerful acting by all the principals. Any film featuring J. T. Walsh is O.K. in my book and "Red Rock West" was one of his best. How sad it was that this exceptional actor's career was cut tragically short by a heart attack in 1998. The most prolific period for "film noir" was without any doubt the forties but "Red Rock West" is a good modern example of the genre and has jumped right into my "Top Ten" list of all time favourite films. I look forward to more like this from director John Dahl. 10/10. Clive Roberts.
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