One False Move

Cert 18

Three criminals leave Los Angeles for Houston with a load of drugs they’ve killed for. Identified as the killers, they change course to a small Arkansas town where one of them was born. Here the sheriff, a good ol’ boy who’s not had to draw his gun in six years, is joined by two hard-boiled representatives of LA law. Part road movie and part High Noon-style portrait of a would-be hero, this is a modern, violent thriller that changes into a very human story, with three-dimensional characters. Each has their own past. Not all have a future.
USA 1991, 106 Minutes

Programme Notes

Fantasia, her boyfriend Ray and his partner Pluto go to a party in Los Angeles. They’re not there to sing happy birthday to the host, but to find the whereabouts of a local drug dealer. They get the drugs and the dealer gets his comeuppance; the party guests don’t survive either. The gang head for Houston, where Pluto knows a dealer, but, realising they’ve been identified, they decide to head for a small town in Arkansas where Ray and Fantasia have connections. They’re expected: two Los Angeles detectives, Cole and McFeely, have contacted Dale, the local sheriff, a good ol’ boy who knows everyone and who never draws his gun. Tension mounts as the three criminals and the three detectives come ever closer, leading to a bloody climax.

This is an exciting, violent thriller that’s sometimes hard to watch (you may want to hide behind someone tall, at least for the first ten minutes or so, if you’re tall, well, tough!). But what starts out as cops and robbers becomes a more personal story of complex relationships and histories, and there are tensions within the groups as well as between the goodies and the baddies. Tensions between the big city cops and the small- town hick, between northern and southern viewpoints, between the sexes, and between blacks and whites; both trios are mixed. It’s no coincidence that for one white man life suddenly becomes frighteningly complicated, while for Fantasia life has always been complicated, and often frightening. At first glance a stereotypical black woman, a white man’s fantasy, she has her own agenda, which she actively pursues. They all do. Which is why, although you probably won’t like any of them much (and you might not like yourself much if you did), you may well end up caring what happens to them.

Dale: Bill Paxton
Fantasia: Cynda Williams
Ray: Billy Bob Thornton
Pluto: Michael Beach
Cole: Jim Metzier
McFeely: Earl Billings
Director: Carl Franklin
Producers: Jesse Beaton, Ben Myron
Screenplay: Tom Epperson, Billy Bob Thornton
Photography: James L Carter