By the time the police have arrived to investigate the carnage, perpetrators Ray (Billy Bob Thornton), girlfriend Fantasia and Pluto have left the bright lights of the big city to an undisclosed location.
The authorities eventually piece together the clues and dispatch a couple of FBI agents to backwater Arkansas. It is here that the two experienced and reality hardened cops meet local Sheriff Dale Dixon (Bill Paxton).
Nicknamed ‘Hurricane’, Dixon is as excited as a kid in a candy store to hear that real live criminals may soon be in his very vicinity. Dixon is talkative and over-eager with the prospect of shoot outs and car chases. After all, that’s how it all looks on TV, which is as close as Hurricane ever been to real action.
Paxton is all energy and no idea as Hurricane, a yahoo who has watched as many episodes of Dukes of Hazzard as he has of Cops. But the real action is – as always – with the bad guys. Once blood is split the tense dynamic between Ray and Pluto becomes increasingly tenuous. Both men are very capable and willing to perform violent acts, but bookish looking Pluto seems to derive an intensely macabre pleasure, looking for opportunities to bring his knife into the action.
The film is a car crash in slow motion. From these opening sequences it becomes a tense slow burn as the good guys get to know one another and brace themselves, while the mismatched threesome move inexorably towards a violent outcome for all, bickering all the way.
By the time the climax arrives everyone is on edge, including the viewer, thanks to the masterful build up and elevated tension created on both sides.
One False Move appears quite straightforward if you just consider a brief synopsis, and in a way it is. But the well drawn characters and deliberate pacing place the film a notch above many of its contemporaries.
Final Rating – 7.5 / 10. Long road trips are rarely uneventful and peaceful, especially those shared by mass murderers…