One False Move
Directed by Carl Franklin
Written by Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Epperson
With Bill Paxton and Lynda Williams
Reviewed by Gabrielle Carey
This is a powerful movie from a new African American director, Carl Franklin. It's a stunningly well-structured thriller with a plot that keeps you on your toes, mixing grim action, road movie and classic film noir.
One False Move is about accountability for your actions, and it doesn't shirk its own responsibilities as a film. It opens violently in LA. The depiction of sadistic drug/money-related crime is shocking and uncompromisingly graphic, but don't stop watching here. The violence is not glamourised or desensitised, and the horror you feel is intended.
From LA we follow the gang — seemingly innocent Fantasia, her explosive boyfriend Ray and the sinister Pluto with a high IQ and a low standard of moral decency — to Star City, Arkansas.
Here another gang is waiting for them — two cynical, blasé cops from LA and the local sheriff, Dale "Hurricane" Dixon, who's full of beans and keen for some city action. Dixon, played with gusto by Bill Paxton, is a character you cringe for, not at, and he provides much of the humour in the film (though his wife has a couple of good lines too), and ultimately he provides the pathos.
Franklin's direction and Thornton and Tom Epperson's script are balanced and well realised, linking city and country with devastating coincidence.
The casting is infallible: a racial cross section that is a credit to US film making. One False Move is one of the first films in the US to recognise the miscegenation of its culture, and it's not tokenistic. Says Thornton, "It's not the point of the film, it's just there." It's about time.