U Turn Movie 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.


Comments

anything's picture

anything

this is certainly a rivetting movie...involves the viwer totally..........

6 years 4 months ago
Report
View Comments

male asian's picture

male asian

this is the worst movie I have ever seen. i dont understand why these producer and director take this kind of movie. are they insane? there is nothing to entertain in this movie. this is the ridiculous and stupid movie. after all movie is an entertainment or art media. this "u turn" collapsed this concept.

7 years 3 months ago
Report
View Comments

U Turn Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: R, 1997

Editors Recommendations

Is The Cannes Palme d'Or Heading David Cronenberg’s Way for 'Map to the Stars'?

The Cannes Film festival is sneaking up fast. The Oscars felt like they were 8 minutes ago...

Is The Cannes Palme d'Or Heading David Cronenberg’s Way for 'Map to the Stars'?

CounterPoint Festival 2014 To Feature Hometown Return of Outkast

Next weekend's CounterPoint Festival will be the event's first year at a new 5000-acre site, featuring...

CounterPoint Festival 2014 To Feature Hometown Return of Outkast

'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' - Not Perfect, But Really, Really Fun

Superhero movies have been striving towards the almost unobtainable goal set...

'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' - Not Perfect, But Really, Really Fun

Ricky Gervais is "Hooked" on David Brent Again - Former Paper Merchant To Return

A return for David Brent has been mooted ever since the character was wheeled...

Ricky Gervais is

This Labor Day, Jay Z Is Bringing "Made In America" To Downtown Los Angeles

Jay Z and the Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti have announced that the rapper’s...

This Labor Day, Jay Z Is Bringing

Anna Wintour wants 'more exclusive' Met Ball 2014

The editor-in-chief of US VOGUE magazine is reportedly determined for the annual...

Anna Wintour - Anna Wintour wants 'more exclusive' Met Ball 2014

'Mrs Doubtfire' Sequel Will Be Made 21 Years After The Original

The comedy classic 'Mrs. Doubtfire' is reportedly set to return to the big-screen...

'Mrs Doubtfire' Sequel Will Be Made 21 Years After The Original

'Of Mice And Men' Brings Out Broadway Talents Of James Franco, Chris O'Dowd

Of Mice And Men premiered on Broadway last night, giving critics a chance to cast...

'Of Mice And Men' Brings Out Broadway Talents Of James Franco, Chris O'Dowd

Sofia Vergara On Her Menage a Trois in Woody Allen's 'Fading Gigolo'

Sofia Vergara has been speaking about her nerves at shooting a ménage a trois with...

Sofia Vergara On Her Menage a Trois in Woody Allen's 'Fading Gigolo'


More recommendations