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U Turn (1997)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller  |  3 October 1997 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 40,646 users   Metascore: 54/100
Reviews: 211 user | 109 critic | 20 from

A young punk drifter heading to Vegas to pay off his gambling debt before the Russian mafia kills him, is forced to stop in a Arizona town where everything that can go wrong, does go wrong for him.



(screenplay), (book)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Biker #1
Richard Rutowski ...
Biker #2
Aida Linares ...
Boy in Grocery Store
Sergi (as Ilia Volokh)
Valeriy Nikolaev ...
Mr. Arkady (as Valery Nikolaev)
Flo (as Julie Haggerty)


When Bobby's car breaks down in the desert while on the run from some of the bookies who have already taken two of his fingers, he becomes trapped in the nearby small town where the people are stranger than anyone he's encountered. After becoming involved with a (unbeknownst to him) young married woman, her husband hires Bobby to kill her. Later, she hires Bobby to kill the husband. Written by Jason Ihle <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Expect the unexpected. See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence, sexuality and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

3 October 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Stray Dogs  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$19,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$2,730,440 (USA) (3 October 1997)


£72,044 (UK) (24 April 1998)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


"U-Turn" was the eleventh and last collaboration (to date) between director Oliver Stone and cinematographer Robert Richardson. See more »


Near the first of the movie, where Cooper's car passes a vulture eviscerating a dead animal, the vulture clearly has a leg ring with an attached band that is being yanked. See more »


Blind Man: I'm about 50% Indian.
Bobby: [Sarcastically] Congratulations.
See more »


Referenced in Grand Theft Auto IV (2008) See more »


Largo Al Factotum
Written by Gioachino Rossini
Arranged by Charlotte Georg (as Lee Ashley)
Vocal by David Romano
Courtesy of OGM/OLE GEORG MUSIC, Hollywood, CA
See more »

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User Reviews

Gritty and brutal, but entertaining as all hell.
23 May 2003 | by (New York State) – See all my reviews

`U Turn' is an assault on the senses. But then again, what more can one expect from director Oliver Stone whose innovative brand of filmmaking is often filled with characters that are violent, insane, heroic, and even bizarre. `U Turn' has many characters played by big name actors that intertwine themselves around a central character, in this case, played by Sean Penn (`Casualties Of War'). Ultimately, a film about getting away with murder, `U Turn' is an intriguing blend of story, violence, and strange people. `U Turn' takes place during a hot day in Arizona where we meet our principal character, Bobby (Penn), who is on his way to California to pay a debt to the mob that has helped him in one way or the other. When his car breaks down, Bobby is forced to have a redneck, roadside mechanic, named Darrell (Billy Bob Thornton), fix it. While his car is in the shop, he ends up walking into a local town where he meets some very eccentric people from a blind vagrant (Jon Voight), a drunken sheriff, a hillbilly and his girlfriend, to an exotic woman who sticks out like a sore thumb against the simplicity of the town. Every person he encounters ultimately leads to a conclusion that he could never have expected. Robert Richardson whose superb cinematography has been used in several films of note filmed `U Turn' masterfully. Richardson's craft with a camera can be seen in such other movies as `The Horse Whisperer,' `Snow Falling On Cedars,' and `The Four Feathers.' With its rough cuts, non-steady cam shots, and scenes filmed as the sun glaring down on the actors, Richardson's work gives a harsh and nauseating feel to the film. Stone's direction was excellent. He's an admirable director in that he doesn't follow the mainstream concepts that are commonly seen in most motion pictures. Watching a Stone film is like watching graduate film students show off their work-it's fresh, energetic, and exciting. `U Turn,' undoubtedly, has some of 1997s best performances. Penn is outstanding as a guy who just keeps happening on the wrong place at the wrong time. Jennifer Lopez is surprisingly good in her performances as the wife of a real estate salesman. Lopez seems to have some talent on the screen…unlike her singing career. Her performance in another offbeat movie, `Out Of Sight,' was also good. Nick Nolte is as Nick Nolte does-he's rough around the edges, perverse and violent as the real estate salesman who seems to rule over the sleepy town. Other performances of note are that of Thornton has a slack-jawed yokel mechanic. Joaquin Phoenix (`Signs') as a hillbilly and his simple-minded girlfriend, played by Claire Danes (`The Hours') give the film a hysterical notch. Other points of interest in the film are the score, composed by veteran, Italian, film composer Ennio Morrcone (`Mission To Mars') whose music adds a humorous atmosphere to the irony of the film. All in all, `U Turn' is a film that is gritty and brutal, but entertaining as all hell. ***1/2

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