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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

One False Move (1992)



Reviews and Comments

One False Move, a film by director Carl Franklin, starts out as a brutal drug crime drama and ends up a neo-noir character piece on the order of John Sayles' Lone Star. While it lacks the depth and expansiveness of that film, One False Move is nevertheless a solid, confident piece of storytelling. Half of the story follows the three criminals. One, played by Billy Bob Thornton, is a rough-edged, impulsive redneck. Another, played by Michael Beach, is exceedingly analytical and cool-headed but prone to sudden violent outbursts. The third, played by Cynda Williams, is a woman named Lila that isn't seem so much a criminal at heart as somebody who just fell in with the wrong crowd. She has misgivings about some of the things they do but lacks the strength to take any decisive action.

The other half of the story follows Bill Paxton's character, an talkative, laid back police chief from Star City -- the badguys aren't originally headed anywhere near Paxton's town, but it's Lila's home town, and they'll inevitably end up there.

One False Move avoids what many character-oriented crime dramas fail to do: it has a climax that's based not so much on action-oriented shoot-outs but rather a natural resolution of the character conflicts set in motion by the earlier scenes. It's refreshing and immensely satisfying to see a character-driven story end appropriately.