Friday, July 13, 2012

RED ROCK WEST (1993) - John Dahl


Don't let the wild-eyed Cage in the picture above fool you. This is actually one of his more subdued performances, only a 3.5 on his self-anointed "Nouveau Shamanic" scale. Apart from one or two randomly shouted line readings and a set of one-armed push-ups in the middle of the highway, it's Cage on a leash. He uses his wild gifts in the service of story over showboating as a penniless drifter who can't seem to escape his bad luck or a certain titular Wyoming town when he unknowingly accepts a job as a hitman.

This is the flick that first introduced me to John Dahl, a sort of noir specialist back in the day. He seems to fallen off the features list as of late into a lot of TV directing gigs (Breaking Bad, Justified). The man's got big screen chops though. He comes up with countless ingenious ways to keep Cage returning to Red Rock against his will until the town itself becomes the third circle of hell. Things get slightly less interesting around the hour mark when Dennis Hopper, the real killer, shows up and Lara Flynn Boyle gets more screen time. But Cage remains entirely watchable until the very end. Even when he's doing this...

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