Mounting tension like a motherfucker, One False Move is a gripping thriller with a Southern taste. A bottle of whiskey, a cigarette hanging on the corner of your lip, and a sense of true despair kind of affair. It opens with one of the more disturbing sequences of events, playing just a tad faster for my taste. Mostly because these are the nineties and we’re all on cocaine. However, that doesn’t detract from the intensity of the events. You know in the back of your head that shit like this happens all the time and this is what makes it scary.
Driven by powerful performances from Bill Paxton and Michael Beach, it’s one of the more underrated movies of the nineties. Oddly enough, Billy Bob Thornton who co-wrote the story is the weakest of the bunch. Although he certainly looks the part. One of the things that One False Move did so well was the introduction of the ticking clock gimmick pretty early on. These seemingly random characters are set on a collision course that you simply know is coming. Or is it?
As the story unfolds we simply cannot predict where it’s going thanks to stellar writing. This makes certain scenes truly intense and unnerving. Especially after that heavy intro. The dynamics between our trio of criminals play out nasty but again very believable. These well-developed characters may only seem stereotypical at the first glance. However, this is just how things are in the real world and they’re an accurate representation of your average criminal. And the same goes for our law enforcement trio.
Pluto, Fantasia, and Ray are on the run from the police after a drug rip-off. Ray is a nervous drug addict with violent tendencies, especially towards his girlfriend Fantasia, while Pluto is a cold and calculated murderer. They are looking to sell the drugs in Houston, to one of Pluto’s friends. However, law enforcement has received a tip they’ll be coming to the small town of Star City. This is a town where nothing much happens and sheriff Dale “Hurricane” Dixon is very excited about the whole thing. The stage is set for one bloody story.
One False Move also features a humorous undertone, reveling in bizarre situations our characters find themselves in. It toys with racial stereotypes in a very smart and poignant way. The age-old city folk versus country folk also adds another layer to an already great story. Although we will be spending significantly more time in a small and quiet town in Arkansas. It’s funny to think that our gang decided to travel here to sell their drugs when just 175 miles up the road was Mena.
It served as a center of operations for Barry Seal, who smuggled tones of cocaine to this small city from Mexico and Columbia. If you want to know more about this check out American Made starring Tom Cruise. And while we’re on the subject you can also take a look at Arkansas, Mud, and more upbeat Red Rock West. Finally, I also have to recommend two classic spree killers movies Badlands and Natural Born Killers. Enjoy.
Director: Carl Franklin
Writers: Billy Bob Thornton, Tom Epperson
Cast: Bill Paxton, Cynda Williams, Billy Bob Thornton, Michael Beach, Jim Metzler, Earl Billings, Natalie Canerday
Fun Facts: When the film was completed, the original plan was to release it straight to video. Stronger than expected word of mouth convinced I.R.S. to send it to theaters.