Irish Film Institute -Red RockWest

Red RockWest

Director: John Dahl

Starring a trio of actors with more than a passing association with David Lynch, John Dahl’s film takes the familiar Lynchian theme of smalltown America – Red Rock, Wyoming, pop. 874 – and does the old trick of peeling back the veneer to reveal that all is not well beneath the dusty exterior.
Idling into town comes Michael (Cage), an out of work former Marine, meandering his way north in search of gainful employment. Pulling over for an innocent bevvy at the local bar, a classic case of mistaken identity occurrs and, by virtue of his mother’s Texas plated, shady proprietor Wayne (Walsh) assumes Michael to be the Lone Star hitman he hired to bump off his heiress wife. With a $5,000 downpayment slapped into his grubby mitts and being, well, a bit strapped for cash, Michael goes along with thte ruse, traipsing off to despatch the brains of Wayne’s missus (Flynn Boyle) in a general western direction.
Being a decent sort of bloke, he never intends to go through with it, of course, but a further complication prevents him doing a speedy runner from Red Rock. Thus, when the real hitman (Hopper ) shows up, the fun and games begin, with everybody doublecrossing everybody everybody else but with all of them out to nail Michael good and proper.
Cage, Hollywood’s favourite world-wrary individual, slopes about with his usual down trodden compteence and J.T. Walsh, the supporting actor’s supporting actor, is nicely chilling, but the real joy here is Hopper in a superbly psychotic turn as gunman Lyle, not a million miles away from, and probably related to, Blue Velvet’s Frank. Unfortunately, Flynn Boyle doesn’t cut the mustardas a scheming femme fatale, but there are enough cracking twists and a genuine feeling of suspense to notch this one up as one of the superior noirs of recent years.

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