Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Red Rock West

Red Rock West; Thriller, USA, 1992; D: John Dahl, S: Nicolas Cage, J.T. Walsh, Dennis Hopper, Lara Flynn Boyle

With only 5 $ in his pocket, Michael is traveling in his car through Wyoming, looking for a job. In some bar, the rich Wayne mistakes him for a killer he ordered and gives him 5.000 $ to kill his wife Susan. He takes the money but warns her. She then gives him 5.000 $ to kill Wayne. Michael hits some man with his car and brings him to the hospital. There the sheriff waits for him - it is Wayne. He starts prosecuting him, so Michael boards the car of some guy called Lyle. But when it turns out that Lyle is actually the original hired killer, he runs away. Michael and Susan hide and come closer. She tells him that Wayne is a con artist who stole a million $, but then Lyle catches them and demands for that amount. Wayne brings them to a graveyard and dies fighting Lyle. Michael and Susan run away with the money and board a train, but he throws her off after she threatened him with a gun.

"Red Rock West" is a very good film noir by John Dahl, a specialist for sly crime stories who knows how to conjure up a moody atmosphere. The story here is so filled with surprises and absurd coincidences that intervene more and more that at some moments it almost seems like a black comedy - some of the wackiest situations are when the hero, Michael, gets mistaken for a hired killer in a bar by Wayne who gives him 5.000 $, but he quickly contacts her who gives him another 5.000 $ and demands that he kills Wayne instead; Michael almost runs over a guy with his car who later on turns out to be the original hired killer; the bad guy Wayne just happens to be the local sheriff etc - yet it always keeps its balanced and realistic tone. Dahl has a good pace and sense for the Wyoming mentality, the screenplay is well written whereas the ending is almost ironic in its conclusion about some things in life. Some minor flaws could be attributed to a few too serious moments, stiff solutions or redundancy. A small jewel here is excellent Dennis Hopper who does not play the bad guy Wayne in a conceited way, but with class and elegance, reminding of some of his best roles as a villain.


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