Starring: Sean Penn, Jennifer Lopez, Nick Nolte, Billy Bob Thornton.
Running time: 125 minutes
Directed By: Oliver Stone
Written By: John Ridley
U Turn is a very strange, weird and unusual film. I have recently finished watching it and I am really unsure on what to make of it. Urm, is it good? Not really. Is it bad? Not really. I just don't know what to say about it.
The story is about Sean Penn's character, Bobby. He is driving through the desert on route to Vegas to pay off a gambling debt. A debt that has already cost him two fingers. Whilst driving, his radiator hose bursts and the closest place to get it fixed is a little town called Superior. He pulls into a typical looking garage for a deserted town such as this, and is greeted by a fat, hillbilly which is Billy Bob Thornton (who is actually pretty good). Bobby leaves the car in the mechanics hands and heads off to get a drink. Whilst walking through the town he meets Grace (Lopez) and an instant sexual attraction takes place. He ends up helping her put up drapes back at her home but when things heat up her husband (Nolte) arrives home and punches Bobby in the nose.
Bobby then leaves the house but is tailed by Jake (J Lo's husband) and is offered money to kill his wife as he can't stand her. Bobby is unsure but when his bag of money is stolen in a grocery shop robbery, he realises he needs the money to pay off his debt or lose more of his fingers. However as he is about to kill her she offers him another proposition, kill her husband and steal his stash of cash he keeps under the floor boards. From here on Bobby must contemplate which route to take. He tries the easy option, to leave the town but the mechanics ridiculous charge for a radiator hose leaves Bobby's beloved Mustang in the mechanic's compound until he pays up. Bobby has no choice, but what will he do to get the money.
The story does sound quite intriguing but everything just seems to fall in place far too easily. The characters don't force the plot twists, they just seem to randomly happen and Penn is left turning backwards and forward within this town. We also meet four other characters that seem to have very little to do with the plot other than to show the obscurity of this town. We have a Sheriff (Powers Boothe), a young couple (Claire Danes and Joaquin Phoenix), him always wanting a fight and her willing to run away with any man possible, and we are also given a blind tramp (Jon Voight) with plenty of wisdom to go around. All of these are just potential obstacles or aids and have very little usage. A debt collector comes into town at one point, on a mission to catch Bobby, but within thirty seconds he is arrested. No tension with him then as he is removed far too quickly.
We find ourselves re-treading old ground as this film goes on. Each twenty minute segment just seems to repeat itself up until the strange climax. We are just shown how unlucky one man can be, and how strange this little town seems to be.
The stars aren't bad with Penn giving a decent performance, I'm sure this wasn't a tough role for him. Lopez is typically her, not great and Nolte is just gruff. The star is perhaps Thornton in his unrecognizable role, it is definitely against type cast and I was fairly impressed with him. The direction isn't bad but the setting is very typical and something we've seen all too often. I was impressed with the editing and felt that there was a trippy feel to the entire film. Several camera movements and points of view shoots were stitched together well and gave a great feel to the movie. That still doesn't make it a good movie though.
I was never really engaged with this film. Not once was I hooked and desperate to know what's going to happen next, in fact I didn't really care. The ending was poor and left you with a poor impression of this film. The theme seems to be about being lost and alone and the theme works as the whole way through that was exactly how I felt.
2 / 5
Next film to review: V.I. WARSHAWSKI