Too easygoing to be called neo-noir, Arkansas is a solid crime comedy advertising as a thriller. It’s based on a novel of the same name written by John Brandon and features a very authentic atmosphere. This is basically the movie’s biggest selling point as it tries to capture that Americana vibe. We will be following realistic characters in realistic but also very bizarre situations. After all, we’re talking about drug dealers working for the Dixie mafia. Dixie mafia is a criminal organization employing mostly white Southerners and operating in that region.

If you like crime movies focusing on characters, you’re going to love Arkansas. And since the whole thing has this genuine rural charm, it feels different than other movies in the genre. That’s why I wouldn’t compare this to any of the Tarantino movies. It feels more like a Coen Brothers movie than anything else. We will also learn more about how the whole drug dealing operation works. It feels like we get an insider’s look into this strange world and the people that inhabit it. This makes the movie also feel a bit more personal.

The dialogues are funny and snappy helping with the slower pacing immensely. The same goes for the dark humor. Liam Hemsworth and Clark Duke were excellent here along with Vince Vaughn and John Malkovich. In fact, the entire cast did a terrific job. They gave quite subdued performances putting the movie and the story it’s trying to tell first. A story that didn’t need to be this convoluted and long but it undoubtedly is.

Kyle has been working hard these past few years, selling drugs wholesale for the mafia. Now, it’s time for him to step up and start moving more product. This is why he gets a partner, Swin. Unlike broody Kyle, Swin is a pretty relaxed and casual guy. Both of them are working for a seasoned criminal who knows how to get shit done. However, shit is about to hit the fan when murder, a drug deal gone wrong and a big pile of cash come into the picture.

And while Arkansas looks and sounds like a big movie, it feels like an indie effort. The same goes for the editing and camerawork. This is Clark Duke’s directorial debut so things like that are inevitable. Still, there’s enough charm and honesty here to keep you interested ’till the end. Out of all five chapters I liked the one with the story of how Vaughn’s character Frog came into the business the best. It also stars none other than Michael Kenneth Williams or Omar from The Wire.

Director: Clark Duke

Writers: Clark Duke, )Andrew Boonkrong, John Brandon

Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Clark Duke, John Malkovich, Vince Vaughn, Vivica A. Fox, Michael Kenneth Williams

Fun Facts: Clark Duke wears a different pro wrestling T-shirt for each day.

Rating:

IMDb Link: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9139586/

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