The 90s were such a fascinating time for movies, particularly ones within the crime and thriller genres. Some were kinda typical and formulaic, but often still entertained. But then we also got ones that could subvert expectations. I only say this because 90s thrillers are among my favorite kinds of movies, and today we’re talking about one such movie, one that I only heard about for the first time late last year.
Ladies and gents… “One False Move”.
After a group of criminals commit a violent crime in Los Angeles, they flee the city, heading east towards Arkansas to go into hiding. However, the L.A. police are already onto them, so they get to the quaint Arkansas town first to team up with the local Sheriff (Bill Paxton) to hopefully get his help in apprehending the criminals. In the first half hour or so it may kinda seem like a typical thriller in a lot of ways, but as we move on through the story, it evolves in a lot of unexpected ways, turning into a surprisingly nuanced take on race and humanity. And despite this switch in focus, it all feels natural. The story uses its setups to give us a genuinely clever and layered narrative that managed to keep me enraptured from start to end.
Just like the plot before them, the characters in the movie may seem like one simple idea at first, but as time passes, we find out that there’s more than meets the eye. Bill Paxton plays Sheriff Dale Dixon, a lovable countryside Sheriff who’s ready for action. And the arc he goes through here is so unexpected, yet so compelling, that I can’t help but find him an electrifying character. And Paxton is terrific in the role. Next we have Cynda Williams as a young woman who travels with the criminal group at the center of the story, and we quickly learn she does have some interesting history (to keep it vague). And Williams is really good in the role. Then we have Billy Bob Thornton and Michael Beach as the two main crooks, and they make for an interesting presence in the movie. And both actors are great in their roles. We also get some supporting work from people like Jim Metzler, Earl Billings, Natalie Canerday, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.
The music for the movie was composed by Peter Haycock, Derek Holt, and Terry Plumeri. I really like what they did with the score. There is an interesting mix of genres in the score. At times it sounds like a more typical movie score with regular orchestrations, and at times it goes for blues instrumentation. I find it to be quite a fascinating blend that really adds to the film’s atmosphere, giving it a fairly unique soundscape that I loved listening to throughout the runtime.
Written by Billy Bob Thornton & Tom Epperson, “One False Move” was directed by Carl Franklin, who I think did a great job. He manages to give the entire thing a very grounded feel, without sacrificing any cinematic flair. This also helps bring in some decent suspense at times, which further adds to the nuance of the narrative and world of the movie. So combine Franklins confident direction with James L. Carter’s really good cinematography, and you get an insanely well crafted movie.
This movie has been really well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 87/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10.
While the change in narrative focus may put some people off, I personally thought “One False Move” was a great little crime-drama. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “One False Move” is a 9,80/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
My review of “One False Move” is now completed.
I miss Bill Paxton.