The film opens with a nauseatingly vivid drug murder in Los Angeles -- two dealers, accompanied by a coked-out woman, wipe out an innocent family. They're a scary group, a pathologically violent white-trasher Billy Bob Thornton), a clinically cold, black genius (Michael Beach) and a desperate, whacked-out mulatto with the nom de streets of Fantasia (Cynda Williams).
With a bundle of coke, they blast out of Los Angeles, heading to Houston to unload the stuff, with an eventual destination of Star City, Ark., where Fantasia grew up and, in her rattled drug delirium, yearns to return.
They don't exactly leave the scene of the crime without clues, and it's not long before the LAPD figures out their destination, sending two veteran homicide investigators (Jim Metzler, Earl Billings) on their trail. Up ahead, they've alerted the Star City sheriff, a local-yokel lawman nicknamed Hurricane (Bill Paxton) who's thrilled by the chance to do some big-time stuff.
Cross-cutting between the events of the chase and the dirtwater Arkansas burg where Hurricane is whetting his chops for action, director Carl Franklin has cranked up an unnervingly tight-triggered film. Screenwriters Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Epperson's scenario never relents from the out-of-control nature of the trio's bad acts.
The performances are chock-full with hard mettle. Thorton is rivetingly vile as the explosive dealer, while Beach's portrayal of his methodical accomplice is cunningly powerful. As Fantasia, Williams is the film's most sympathetic character, soundly limning the horrific downspin of an abused woman who keeps coming back for more.
Paxton as the good-ole-boy, backwoods lawman, gets to this grit of his inner fires, revealing the dark flecks in his good-guy/white-hat persona.
The technical credits are tough and crisp. Top marks, especially to Peter Yaycock and Derek Holt's score: a raw swirl of blues and hard roads.
ONE FALSE MOVE
A Carl Franklin Film
Producers Jesse Beaton, Ben Myron
Director Carl Franklin
Screenwriters Billy Bob Thornton, Tom Epperson
Executive producers Miles A. Copeland III, Paul Colichman, Harold Welb
Executives in charge of production Toni Phillips, Steven Reich
Director of photography James L. Carter
Production designer Gary T. New
Editor Carole Kravetz
Costume designer Ron Leamon
Music Peter Haycock, Derek Holt
Sound mixer Ken Segal
Dale "Hurricane" Dixon Bill Paxton
Fantasia/Lila Cynda Williams
Ray Malcolm Billy Bob Thornton
Pluto Michael Beach
Dud Cole Jim Metzler
McFeely Earl Billings
Running time - 114 minutes
MPAA Rating: R
(c) The Hollywood Reporter
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