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



Whitney Houston & Bobbi Kristina

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.

production details
France – USA | 125 minutes | 1997

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

Jennifer Lopez as Grace McKenna
Jon Voight as Blind Man
Claire Danes as Jenny
Laurie Metcalf as Bus Station Clerk
Billy Bob Thornton as Darrell
Bo Hopkins as Ed
Sean Penn as Bobby Cooper
Brent Briscoe as Boyd
Valeriy Nikolaev as Mr. Arkady
Nick Nolte as Jake McKenna
Joaquin Phoenix as Toby N. Tucker
Powers Boothe as Sheriff Virgil Potter
Abraham Benrubi as Biker #1
Richard Rutowski as Biker #2
Aida Linares as Jamilla
Sean Stone as Boy in Grocery Store
Ilia Volok as Sergi
Julie Hagerty as Flo
Annie Tien as Short Order Cook
Sheri Foster as Grace’s Mother
Liv Tyler as Girl in Bus Station
Jeff Flach as Yes Man (uncredited)