A man heading to Vegas to pay off his gambling debt before the Russian mafia kills him is forced to stop in an Arizona town where everything that can go wrong does go wrong.A man heading to Vegas to pay off his gambling debt before the Russian mafia kills him is forced to stop in an Arizona town where everything that can go wrong does go wrong.A man heading to Vegas to pay off his gambling debt before the Russian mafia kills him is forced to stop in an Arizona town where everything that can go wrong does go wrong.
Sean Penn brilliantly plays the lead character, whose car blows a radiator hose out in the middle of the Arizona desert, and the closest town is that of Superior, AZ, a dirt-road town with barely 1,000 people living there, if that. Penn goes through hell from the beginning when random characters in the city want something from him and in return, it drives him to try his best to get the hell out of Superior. Everything during his days in Superior is centered around money and the fact that he has hardly any. So he gets schemed into murders, and he gets whatever little he has taken away from him (his train ticket gets ripped up by the local hoodlum, TNT, again brilliantly played by Joaquin Phoenix, and he has several full bottles of beverages broken for different reasons). Therefore, he's constantly running in circles to get out of this town.
There is an all-star cast (back then, and now) of actors: Jennifer Lopez (a better singer than actress), Nick Nolte, Joaquin Phoenix, Billy Bob Thornton (the best among the bunch as the hick mechanic), Sean Penn, Claire Danes, Liv Tyler (only for a second in the train station), and Jon Voight...all packed into a nice DVD. The music had that comic, light-hearted side to it (with the country sound of a jew's-harp played over violin or whatever, etc) which helped you to see the irony that is driving him to madness in this town. Again the camera shots were awesome, and they had that Oliver Stone quality of the 90's where he would switch frames with the villain of the movie with an animal skull and switch the point-of-view to see what the actors are seeing, and so on.
I didn't like the ending so much. I kind of wanted things to resolve themselves, but instead, things just keep on falling into the bad-luck-category of his life. I also hated Jennifer Lopez's delivery of lines (just like in any other movie with her...The Cell, etc) because they feel so fake and put on that you know the director was just looking for T&A for the film. Also she doesn't play a native American very well. She has a thick accent straying too much towards Latino that you don't pick up on any cultural change until you get the story.
Overall, though, (bad point aside) it is a brilliant movie that is easy to watch if you like the other Stone films. I had to give it a 9/10 for great performances, great music, awesome story, and everything in between. Go out and buy it if your a fan of any of the actors listed above, or if you are trying to find a great weekend film with friends.
- Feb 5, 2005