An endless white landscape of rolling hills and snow-blanketed forests. A lonely acoustic score (by Danny Elfman) playing in the background. A vision of rural simplicity portrayed in hushed tones. The stillness is about to shatter. Brothers Hank (Bill Paxton
), an accountant at a small-town feed store, and Jacob (Billy Bob Thornton
), an unemployed, hygienically challenged dim bulb, accompanied by Jacob's oafish pal Lou (Brent Briscoe), stumble across a downed plane in the brush containing a corpse and a sack containing millions of dollars--surely the aftermath of a drug deal, they conclude. Greed overcomes good sense, and the three agree to hide the money for a year and keep the secret to themselves. A simple plan indeed, and it doesn't take long for it to go all to hell as the lure of wealth tears at kinship and friendship, and the ruthless machinations of impetuous partners leave a body count in its wake. Bridget Fonda
costars as Hank's wife, whose initial hesitation gives way to cold-blooded plotting. Sam Raimi, best known for wowing audiences with stylistic gymnastics and manic mayhem, directs this quietly desperate thriller with chilly restraint, finding its cold, tragic heart in the estranged relationship between Hank and Jacob: the college boy blind to the truth of his own family and the town loser whose tortured soul reveals a humanity lost on his brother (a brilliant performance by Thornton). Adapted by Scott B. Smith from his acclaimed novel. --Sean Axmaker
The American Dream. In a gym bag. That's how three men (Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, Brent Briscoe) size up what they've found in the snowy Minnesota woods. They've come across a downed plane with a rotting corpse inside... and over $4 million stuffed inside a duffel bag. Finders, keepers? Maybe, but first they'll need a foolproof plan. So they and the wife (Bridget Fonda) of one of the men start out with a scheme that's perfect in its simplicity... and lethal in its miscalculation of the human heart. Mistrust, murder, intrigue all are soon at work in this stark, twist-filled thriller. Directed by Sam Raimi (Spider-Man, The Evil Dead), A Simple Plan is a ''quietly devastating thriller'' (New York Times) for which Billy Bob Thornton was Oscar nominated.