From the Chicago Reader (September 30, 1997). — J.R.
A fairly enjoyable piece of junk from Oliver Stone (1997) that occasionally recalls Dennis Hopper’s The Hot Spot – sleazy southwest burg seething with creeps, sexpots, and protracted grudge matches — and is limited only by its occasional pseudoexperimental tics (a carryover from Natural Born Killers) and by its determination to extend its hyperbolic noir plot beyond two hours. Sean Penn plays a con man whose car breaks down en route to Las Vegas, where he’s supposed to settle a debt; Billy Bob Thornton, as the ornery mechanic who extends his stay, is the first in a string of overblown caricatures that for better or worse define the movie — others are offered by Jennifer Lopez, Nick Nolte, Julie Hagerty, Powers Boothe, Joaquin Phoenix, Jon Voight, Claire Danes, Bo Hopkins, Laurie Metcalf, and Liv Tyler. The tricky and tricked-up script is by John Ridley. (JR)