Urban Cinefile
"I never believed that life and farce are mutually exclusive - they're much the same in fact. "  -- P.J. Hogan, on his film Muriel's Wedding
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



Unemployed Texan, Michael (Nicolas Cage), drifts into a bar in Red Rock, Wyoming. Mistaken for a hired killer by bar owner Wayne (J.T. Walsh), Michael accepts $5000 to murder Wayne's adulterous wife Suzanne (Lara Flynn Boyle). Attempting to take the money and run, Michael decides to warn Suzanne of Wayne's plot but is prevented from making a getaway when the real hit man Lyle (Dennis Hopper) arrives in town.

Review by Richard Kuipers:
Red Rock West is a tasty film noir with a western twang to it and enough twists to keep hardened crime buffs on their toes. Even better than the deliciously complicated plot are the performances of a cast enjoying themselves with the ripe material. Nicolas Cage's hang-dog face is perfectly suited to the role of the nice guy who makes one mistake that snowballs into a nightmare and he's guilty of only a couple of over-acting outbursts.

Originally cast as the revenge-minded Wayne, Dennis Hopper turns in one of his juiciest, funniest performances as 'Lyle From Texas', whose running commentary is one of the many highlights of a film that switches from comedy to hard-boiled melodrama with razor sharp precision. Sure, Hopper's played this sort of role a hundred times and at first you might think it's Frank Booth from Blue Velvet all over again but ol' Lyle has his own distinctive flavour. The late, great character actor J.T. Walsh plays a memorable, quietly-spoken villain and Lara Flynn Boyle oozes dangerous charm as the reason why this quartet will be stuck in Red Rock 'til murder do them part.

Gliding along smoothly to an atmospheric score by William Ovis and a soundtrack including 'Redneck Girl' by The Kentucky Headhunters and 'Highway 29' by Billy Bacon and the Forbidden Pigs, Red Rock West is a class item directed by John Dahl after he made Kill Me Again (1989) and before his delirious The Last Seduction (1994). If you like sweaty thrillers like Blood Simple, this one's for you and it looks great in a crisp 1.85:1 transfer with bonus commentary by Dahl, his brother and co-writer Rick and editor Scott Chestnut.

The commentary strikes a nice balance between 'making of' anecdotes and more detailed examinations of the style and themes explored in this rattling good crime tale. One of the small gems of info recalls how country singing star Dwight Yoakam brought his own pistol on set for his role as a truck driver. The feature audio is presented only in Dolby 2.0 (a surround remix would have been welcome) and the 21 chapter stops are well placed to select your favourite moments. A good package worth at least a rental.

Published January 2, 20

Email this article


CAST: Nicolas Cage, Lara Flynn Boyle, Dennis Hopper, J.T. Walsh


RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes

PRESENTATION: 1.85:1; AUDIO: Dolby Mono 2.0

SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio Commentary with Director/Writer John Dahl, Writer Rick Dahl and Editor Scott Chestnut, Talent Profiles, Trailer. Language: English. Subtitles: None

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Umbrella Entertainment/The AV Channel

DVD RELEASE: November 29, 2002

Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020