When a promised job for Texan Michael fails to materialize in Wyoming, Mike is mistaken by Wayne to be the hitman he hired to kill his unfaithful wife, Suzanne. Mike takes full advantage of the situation, collects the money, and runs. During his getaway, things go wrong, and soon get worse when he runs into the real hitman, Lyle.
A bit dated looking at it over 20 years later, but still entertaining. A slick neo-noir that helped revive the genre.
All Roads Lead To Intrigue. Red Rock West is directed by John Dahl who also co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Rick. It stars Nicolas Cage, Dennis Hopper, Lara Flynn Boyle, J. T. Walsh and Timothy Carhart. Music is by William Olvis and cinematography by Marc Reshovsky. When a promised job in Wyoming fails to materialise on account of an injury sustained in combat, Michael Williams (Cage) drifts into the town of Red Rock and is mistaken in a bar for a hit-man hired to kill an unfaithful wife. Tempted by the high cash on offer, Michael plays along and promptly finds himself in a web of intrigue from which escape is looking unlikely Welcome To Red Rock/You Are Now Leaving Red Rock. The studio didn't know what to do with it, a neo-noir flavoured with contemporary Western spices. Put out on cable in America and thriving on its limited release in Europe, it started to gain a cult fan-base. More so after a theatre in the Frisco Bay area started showing it and it made considerable coinage. Today it still remains more of a cult piece than anything else, which while it deserves more accolades and exposure, is still kind of nice for the fans, because it's like we have our own little neo-noir treasure all to ourselves. Red Rock West is essential for the neo-noir heads and well worthy of inspection by the average modern day crime film fan. Plot wise it's a bit, shall we say iffy? Yet the twists, turns and characterisations are so deftly constructed and performed, it matters not a jot. Cage's ex- marine is an honest and decent guy who whilst down on his luck - punished for his honesty - finds himself in a vortex of mystery and murder that he can't escape from. His companions in this scenario are film noir staples, the femme fatale (Boyle) with a smoulder as big as her secret, the hit-man (Hopper) with a glint in his eye to accompany his callous leanings, and the shifty bar owner (Walsh) trying to off his wife whilst keeping his shady cards close to his chest. As the tricksy plot unfolds in a haze of bad judgements and untruths, further pulsed by the vagaries of fate, it becomes apparent that Dahl wants us to know it isn't taking itself too seriously. There's a glorious scent of dark humour hanging in the air, an unpretentiousness about the whole thing that's refreshing. The look and feel is perfect for the narrative, the colour is stripped back to create a moody atmospheric surround, while the score and sound-tracking immediately brings to mind country and western tales of woe. Dahl knows his noir onions, but this is not just a homage hat tipper to the past, he understands what works in noir, be it the blending of the quirky with the edgy, or scene setting in locales such as a colourless bar and a foggy cemetery, Dahl gets the key ingredients right to deliver the goods wholesale. The small cast come up trumps. Boyle as Suzanne Brown is weak if her femme fatale is pitted against the likes of Matty Walker or Bridget Gregory, but it's an adequate performance that doesn't hinder the picture. She is helped enormously, though, by having to share most scenes with Cage who brings his "A" game. Consistently inconsistent throughout his career, Cage, when on form is a joy to watch, here he gets to thrive as a put upon hero, shifting seamlessly between confusion and boldness, where incredulous looks are the order of the day with a side order of eccentric intensity. Hopper does what he does so well, amusing villainy, while Walsh is effortlessly menacing and suspicious. In small secondary support Carhart and country star Dwight Yoakam leave favourable impressions. This is not an edge of your seat thriller, or a cranium bothering piece of dramedy, it's neo-noir done right. Where morality is grey at best and money is the root of all evil, it's slick, playful, cold blooded and absorbing. Hooray! 9/10