U Turn

"Excellent"

U Turn Review


I can't imagine U Turn in any director's hands except Oliver Stone's. Breaking free from his political obsessions, Stone explores new territory, giving the material a stark edge, innovation, and a thick, memorable atmosphere. In one film he investigates adultery, incest, bad luck, Indian philosophy, gambling, paranoia, murder, deception, fraud, money, and the Russian Mafia. This is an original tale with a full plate, but surprisingly U Turn never feels crowded, contrived, or recycled. It's a feast for the senses, as long as you have a strong stomach.

Similar to Natural Born Killers in style, the film includes black & white inserts, frequent use of hand-held cameras, overexposed shots, vivid close-ups, zip-switches from smooth to grainy, unique camera angles, time-lapse sequences, and hallucinogenic effects. Stone rounded up some of his Nixon crew to establish the technical aspects of the film, including director of photography Robert Richardson, production designer Victor Kempster, and editors Hank Corwin and Thomas Nordberg. The crew shot U Turn in just 42 days, entirely on location in the actual town of Superior, Arizona, fully utilizing the vast landscape. According to the film's production information, the filmmakers revamped four blocks of Superior's main street, even creating new restaurants out of unused storefronts.

In the film (based on the novel Stray Dogs), Sean Penn delivers a harrowing, convincing performance as Bobby Cooper, a drifter headed to Las Vegas in order to pay off a gambling debt to Russian gangsters. He's behind on his dues, however. The mob has already cut off two of his fingers because he was two weeks late.

While traveling down the open desert highway, catching some wind from behind the wheel of his red convertible, his car's radiator hose busts. He must quickly get to the nearest town, and that happens to be Superior, Arizona, a desolate mining town on the edge of nowhere. Bobby pulls into the only gas station within 50 miles, where a greasy, hick mechanic named Darrell (Billy Bob Thornton) offers some friendly advice to check out the town while he fixes his car. Desperate and bored, Bobby takes the journey into the heart of Superior. That's his first mistake.

Once in the town, Bobby meets an odd ensemble of civilians. A blind but prudent Native American (Jon Voight) offers a few words of wisdom. The luring sight of a sexy, inquiring woman named Grace McKeena (Jennifer Lopez) gets Bobby into a problematic situation with her real estate baron husband, Jake (Nick Nolte). The scattering town sheriff (Powers Boothe) prevents a fight between Bobby and a macho young man named TNT (Joaquin Phoenix), over ditzy teen dream Jenny (Claire Danes). Then, out of increasingly bizarre and uneventful circumstances, Bobby becomes trapped in the town, with several characters aggressively persuing his services, sexuality, and money. As the stakes increase and tensions rise, things only travel down hill.

U Turn evolves into an intriguing tale of immorality, murder, and relationships. The vast variety of characters each poke at different areas of Bobby's morality. Although Penn's character never chooses this path, Jon Voight's character serves as the morally straight conscience of Bobby. Bobby picks Grace over Jenny, which explains that he likes his women sophisticated and mysterious, rather than flamboyant and talky. Both women are involved with other men, of course. TNT and Jake provide complications later in the plot, sometimes motivated, sometimes pointless. The town's sheriff acts like God, an all-seeing eye, often scooping Bobby out of trouble -- but not all the time. The movie provides no easy answers for Bobby. Ultimately, he makes his own choices, and digs his own grave.

Provocative and graphic, U Turn is not for all audiences. Many blew the movie off as pointless, without aim or direction, all style and no substance. I disagree. The movie does have a point. It examines the mind of an immoral man. Throughout his journey into Superior, Arizona, he faces trials, tribulations, and encounters people who provide him with choices, but do not decide his fate.

This is not a film for younger viewers, although it does show that negative consequences follow bad decisions. Naturally, Stone washes the material excessively in blood, gore, sex, and violence. He paints the most extreme outcome in every situation. Nonetheless, Stone gets his point across. Bobby learns his lesson. If given another chance, I think it's a safe gamble that Bobby would choose a different route, on the road and in life.



U Turn

Facts and Figures

Run time: 125 mins

In Theaters: Friday 3rd October 1997

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 59%
Fresh: 29 Rotten: 20

IMDB: 6.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.