Red Rock West is one of those immersive and upbeat neo-noir experience that you can keep coming back to. Especially if you’re nostalgic about these unassuming but brilliantly crafted thrillers. And this one is coming to us from none other than John Dahl (You Kill Me, Joy Ride, Rounders). So, you can expect an engaging story, interesting characters and a lot of dark humor. And again, the experience is boosted by good performances by leading and supporting actors.
Young Nicolas Cage was just phenomenal, Lara Flynn Boyle showed why she was so popular at times and Dennis Hopper did what he does best. However, it’s all too easy to forget the immortal J.T. Walsh, who really enhanced the quality of the movie. Fucking J.T. Walsh, the man is a legend. All of them really brought to life characters that epitomize this small-town setting, but more importantly life itself. And we all know that life is a bitch and then you die.
Michael Williams has been trying to get a steady job ever since he left the Marine Core. However, his knee injury is messing up his plans and he has no intention of hiding it. Resigned to sleep in his car, he wanders into the small town of Red Rock West and heads straight for the bar. Little does he know that this little decision is about to change his life forever.
Right from the opening scene, you’re transported into this strange and vast ocean of barren landscape and murderous schemes. Set in rural Wyoming, it’s reminiscent of some much darker, noir movies like Retroactive. The camera work is stellar and the cinematography is nice and juicy. Red Rock West plays almost like a western with a distinct nihilistic vibe. The atmosphere is captivating and the story unpredictable. With many twists and turns. And you can bet your sweet ass that the characters are also great.
We open with Micheal waking up in his car in the middle of nowhere. He’s got pretty much nothing to lose but he still takes care of himself working out and shaving. He’s still willing to put in the work and hope for the best. I guess that’s all of us can do in this thing we call life. Before I get too philosophical on ya, I just have to recommend another one of Dahl’s movies. Kill Me Again is very similar to Red Rock West only it’s a bit rough around the edges. So, if you liked this one, you might check it out.
Along with Coen Brothers Raising Arizona also starring Cage and much darker One False Move. Finally, I just have to mention U Turn featuring a similar kind of story and starring Sean Penn and Jennifer Lopez.
Director: John Dahl
Writers: John Dahl, Rick Dahl
Cast: Nicolas Cage, J.T. Walsh, Lara Flynn Boyle, Dennis Hopper, Timothy Carhart, Dale Gibson
Fun Facts: Dennis Hopper’s character, Lyle drives a 1973 Buick Riviera.