Red Rock West [1992]

With Red Rock West and The Last Seduction, writer-director John Dahl established himself as America's leading maker of tough, twisted, funny little neo-noir pictures. Red Rock West is a spare, tight reworking of noirish motifs--the lone man caught in a web of circumstance and betrayal, the rich femme fatale, the corrupt policeman, the wounded military veteran, the homicidal psychopath--that brings to mind classics from Detour to Out of the Past to Bad Day at Black Rock. Cage--warming up for his career-peak (so far) performance in Leaving Las Vegas a few years later--plays an unemployed former Marine (his leg injured in the truck-bombing of the base in Beirut) who stumbles into a nightmarish situation when he stops at a bar in the isolated Wyoming town of Red Rock West. With one fateful step, he's trapped; and no matter how hard he tries, he just can't seem to leave town. The late J.T. Walsh is (as always) splendidly corrupt as the bar owner who harbors some deadly secrets, and Dennis Hopper does a variation on his patented Blue Velvet/River's Edge psycho that suits the treacherous environs of Red Rock West just fine. --Jim Emerson

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