Monday, January 4, 2010

Red Rock West (1993)

Movie quotes:
[Michael knocks out hired killer]
Suzanne: What should I do?
Michael: If I were you…I’d get a divorce.

Suzanne: Don’t you like me?
Michael: Yeah, I like you.
Suzanne: Then what’s the matter?
Michael: Just try to make a point of staying away from married women.
Suzanne: Why? Marriage is just a state of mind.
Michael: Not in Texas.
Suzanne: We’re not in Texas

At a glance:
Nicolas Cage, Dennis Hopper, Lara Flynn Boyle and J. T. Walsh are shining stars in this dark, entertaining western noir with a twist-laden plot peppered with mistaken identity, hired killers, and con artists

Our review (with spoilers):
A down on his luck roughneck (Nicolas Cage) travels 1200 miles from Texas to Wyoming for a job but is turned down. His money gone, he seaches still further in the small town of Red Rock. There, he is mistaken for someone else by local barmen Wayne (J. T. Walsh). Since this someone is there for a job, Michael goes along with it, then finds out that the job is to murder Wayne’s wife Suzanne (Lara Flynn Boyle). When Michael confronts Suzanne, she offers him double the money to do away with Wayne. For a while, it looks like Michael is going to pick up some easy money for nothing, but before he can escape from Red Rock, things get way more complicated – the real hit man (Dennis Hopper) shows up, and Michael is right in the middle of it all.

As Michael, Nicolas Cage gets to dip his toes into the water of corruptability while remaining pure. He has an affair with a married woman, but is that still wrong when her husband is trying to kill her? He goes along with a plan to steal money from the husband’s office safe, but only because the wife says it belongs to her. He refuses to take any money that was not earned, even when he is down to his last five dollars.

When I first saw Red Rock West in 1993, I was thrilled with director John Dahl, and looked forward to his future efforts. He has thrilled me again with the movies The Last Seduction (1994), Unforgettable (1996), and You Kill Me (2007), and he has moved into television to direct episodes of Battlestar Galactica and Breaking Bad, two of my favorite series.

Rating:  3.5 of 4

Other reviewers said:
"It's a brilliant noir movie that seems to understand the inner workings of film noir, rather than just paying tribute to it."
- Jeffrey M. Anderson (Combustible Celluloid)

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