Tony Scott’s hyperkinetic, darkly funny, and hugely entertaining action extravaganza has more plot twists than you can count, and yet it’s also a surprisingly moving tale of young love in a violent, crazy world. Christian Slater is Clarence Worley, a Detroit comic book store clerk who spends his birthday at a Sonny Chiba kung-fu triple feature. There, he meets Alabama (Patricia Arquette), a sweet blonde gal with many similar interests. The two go out for pie and a conversation after the movie, have sex, and Clarence finds out that Alabama is a call girl. They get married and Clarence, urged forward by his Elvis-esque conscience (Val Kilmer), goes to get her things from her pimp, a wanna-be black gangsta named Drexyl (Gary Oldman). Clarence kills Drexyl and takes off with a suitcase, but it turns out to have tons and tons of uncut cocaine inside. Clarence and Alabama hatch a plan: they’ll go to Clarence’s ex-cop father (Dennis Hopper) for a bit of assistance before high-tailing it for Hollywood to stay with Clarence’s ex-college roommate Dick Ritchie (Michael Rapaport) and his pothead, couch-surfing roommate Floyd (Brad Pitt), use Dick’s contact with a movie studio underling (Bronson Pinchot) to get a meeting with a big-time movie producer named Lee Donowitz (Saul Rubinek), and sell the cocaine to make enough money to retire to Cancun. This might make for a half-way decent plan if they knew that they have been followed by several Sicilian gangsters (including James Gandolfini as an introspective hitman) in league with a consiglieri named Vincenzo Coccotti (Christopher Walken). Add a couple of gung-ho detectives (Chris Penn and Tom Sizemore) into the mix, and you’ve got the makings for a good old-fashioned Mexican standoff. Tony Scott is known as a director of action films with a grasp of style over substance (“Top Gun,” “Days of Thunder”). Working from a screenplay by Quentin Tarantino (“Reservoir Dogs”), Scott has made a violent, darkly funny, and surprisingly bittersweet modern fable about two young dumb kids who just want a better life for themselves. Tarantino’s screenplay is melodramatic, intense, violent and contains tons of colorful dialogue with a plethora of memorable one-liners. The cinematography by Jeffrey L. Kimball is slick and glossy, with just the slightest aura of grit. The performances are all top-notch, high octane, and over-the-top, with a particularly memorable scene (with Dennis Hopper) coming from Christopher Walken, who is positively Satanic as a Sicilian mobster who just about meets his match in the least likely of places. This film may not have anything to say, but it is pure, unadulterated fun.
NOTE: The Unrated Director’s Cut on DVD runs 121 minutes.