Thursday, May 26, 2011

671 - Red Rock West review

John Dahl’s “Red Rock West” is a sort of milder cousin to the Coen Bros’ “Blood Simple,” lacking the latter’s intensity but featuring a strong protagonist and creative, energetic plotting. Nic Cage, long before he went bankrupt from buying islands and fossils, is superlative as Michael, a drifter caught up in a murder plot after being mistaken as “Lyle from Dallas” by a murderous husband (J.T. Walsh) seeking an end to his wife(Lara Flynn Boyle). Michael, an honest man and survivor of the 1983 Beirut bombing, proves an unusually compelling and sympathetic protagonist, one that could easily head a few films like this had it been a greater financial success. Things take a customarily bad turn when the real Lyle shows up, and wouldn’t you know it, he’s a cad played by the great Dennis Hopper. Hopper largely keeps the psycho in check, realizing Lyle as a bastard professional that discovers potential in an easy gig gone sour. Dahl and brother Rick’s screenplay never stops to take a rest, always unfurling another insidious twist without blowing the fuse on believability. After a strange path from cable to video to art-house theaters, this gem can be found on Netflix’s streaming service as of this writing.

4 out of 5

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