U-Turn (1997, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte)


In U-Turn Bobby Cooper (Sean Penn) is stranded after his car dies in the desert and he heads for the remote town of Superior, Arizona in search of a mechanic.

He arrives to find a town apparently populated entirely by the criminally insane, who intend to use Cooper to do their dirty work. They include Jake McKenna (NICK NOLTE), who wants Bobby to murder his gorgeous wife Grace (JENNIFER LOPEZ). Grace, in turn, offers him even more cash to kill Jake instead. Bobby is also pursued by trailer-trash pin-up Jenny (CLAIRE DANES), to the displeasure of her lunatic suitor, Toby (JOAQUIN PHONENIX).

Bobby has other priorities, owing $30,000 to the Russian mafia, who has kept two of his fingers as a warning. He has the money and is ready to deliver it, but during a grocery-store robbery a bullet shreds the cash. Bobby can’t even salvage the small bills needed to get his car back from Darrell (BILLY BOB THORNTON), so he has to kill someone if he ever wants to get out of town…

Going further down the Tarantino route that began with Natural Born Killers, Oliver Stone presents a visceral road movie that is a marriage of The Wizard Of Oz and Red Rock West. A modest budget does not limit Stone’s ambition to utilise a cut-price cast, although his leading man almost never made it. Penn originally turned down the role, which went to Bill Paxton but a week before shooting started, he bowed out, and Penn signed on.

USA / 1997

Director: Oliver Stone
Writer: John Ridley (from his own book)

Cast: Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Billy Bob Thornton, Jennifer Lopez, Claire Danes, Joaquin Phoenix

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