Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Red Rock West - film review

I first watched Red Rock West not too long after its release in 1992,and was impressed. On a second viewing, twenty years later, the film stands up very well. It's a snappy neo-noir thriller, atmospherically filmed in Arizona, and with moments of dark comedy leavening the violence. The real surprise is that the movie did not do especially well at first, but its reputation has steadily increased, and with good reason.

Nicholas Cage is very good as Michael, a war veteran who is drifting around in his car, looking for work without much success. He's soon established as a genuinely decent guy, who does not readily give in to temptation. However, when he arrives in Red Rock, he makes his way to Wayne's Bar, and is mistaken by Wayne for Lyle, a hitman from Dallas whom he has hired to murder his wife.

Wayne is a superficially charming but in fact deeply odious character, very well played by J. T. Walsh, whose early death only six years after this film was made was a great loss.Michael reveals the plan to Wayne's wife, and does his best to escape from Red Rock, but Fate lends a hand. When he acts as a sort of Good Samaritan, he finishes up falling foul of the local cops. Then the Sheriff of Red Rock arrives -and this turns out to be Wayne.

The plot complications come thick and fast as Lyle finally arrives in town. He's played by the splendidly menacing Dennis Hopper, one of a number of very strong performances. Best of all is Cage, who shows what a good actor he is at his best. Red Rock West is a thoroughly enjoyable film, well worth a second viewing.

6 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

One of the best little crime films from that era IMHO.

John said...

This is a great movie! One of my favorite of the neo noir thrillers. But even better is THE LAST SEDUCTION also directed by John Dahl, though not written by him as was RED ROCK WEST. I made a note to be on the look out for anything Dahl was involved with after seeing THE LAST SEDUCTION. Linda Fiorentino is astounding in that movie. But since 2007 Dahl has stopped working on feature films and is directing exclusively for cable TV shows. I definitely remember seeing his name on some of the better episodes of DEXTER. His directing credits include nearly every "hot" TV show over here. Impressive.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Patti and John. I don't think I've ever seen The Last Seduction, but I'll put it high on the to-watch list now.

Deb said...

The Last Seduction is a great movie and it's a shame John Dahl didn't create more of the same. On the other hand, Dahl has kept his hand in the game--as opposed to, say, the director of the wonderful Mona Lisa who (according to imdb) was most recently running the construction crew on Booty Call!

Deb said...

Oooops! I meant the director of The Long Good Friday. Sorry.

TracyK said...

Thanks for reminding me of this film. We watched it several times in 2000 and 2001 and haven't seen it since. I should re-watch it just to see J.T. Walsh again. And I enjoyed Linda Fiorentino's acting also.