Bobby Cooper (played by Sean Penn) is headed to Las Vegas in his slick, red convertible. He has to pay off a gambling debt to Russian gangsters and he’s behind in his payments – he’s already had two fingers cut off by the mob, one for each of the two weeks he’s late. While travelling down the Arizona highway, his radiator hose bursts and he must find somewhere to get it fixed. He finds Superior, a tiny desolate mining town and tracks down Darrell (by Billy Bob Thornton) – a greasy, rather unsavoury looking mechanic at the only gas station within 50 miles. Darrel cheerfully suggests Bobby “check out the town” while he fixes his car. So Bobby takes a look around.
Of course, this town is populated by some strange characters – he meets a wise, old Native American (by Jon Voight) who sees the world through blind eyes, the innocent teenager Jenny (by Claire Danes), Toby N Tucker [TNT] (by Joaquin Phoenix) a youth itching for a fight and the sexy but lonely and desperate Grace McKeena (by Jennifer Lopez) – who entices Bobby into a liaison which develops into a sticky situation with her rich husband Jake (Nick Nolte). The mobsters manage to track Bobby down while he is in Superior and when things get tricky, Superior’s Sheriff (by Powers Boothe) is on hand, These bizarre people each interract with Bobby in their own way, even though he tries to keep to himself. But then things take an even stranger turn when Bobby realises he doesn’t have the money to retrieve his fixed car and unless he gets money somehow he’s virtually trapped in Superior … then as the stakes and tensions rise, things only get worse for him.
This really is a great movie. You can feel the tension from the minute Bobby steps into Superior – and practically taste the dust in your dry mouth when you watch him explore this bizarre town. Each of the strange characters evokes a particular emotion or moral dilemma for Bobby and Sean Penn plays this role marvellously. Billy Bob Thornton is totally unrecognizable as the strange Darrell and Jennifer Lopez is at her alluring best as Grace. Nick Nolte plays her rich husband running his own agenda magnificently too The twists and turns in the plot are developed well and clearly depict Bobby’s building frustration and desperation. The excellent cinematography takes you right into the desert with Bobby and you feel hot, dry and sweaty right along with him. As you watch, you really do hope the movie is going to end well but somehow you also know that just might not happen. It’s a very good movie.
Made 1997. Directed by Oliver Stone