Gambler Bobby Cooper (Sean Penn) is en route to Las Vegas to pay off a debt when his car breaks down in the town of Superior, Arizona. Forced to hang around for several hours while the vehicle is fixed, Bobby meets first the seductive Grace McKenna (Jennifer Lopez), then her brutal, older husband, Jake (Nick Nolte). Jake offers to split the insurance on Grace's life with Bobby if he murders her, and although Bobby initially refuses, he is inexorably sucked into a game of cross and double-cross between the couple.
Oliver Stone used such words as "liberating" and "fun" to talk about U-Turn
's relatively quick production schedule of 42 days. Stone's ideas of film fun, however, are something older generations would call sick. This film is a Southwestern noir
tale about Bobby Cooper (Sean Penn), a hotshot who is stuck in the tight confines of Superior, Arizona, when his car breaks down. His subsequent adventure is a meatball comedy--loud, obnoxious and violent, and stuffed with diffused light, a hot cast and a no-fat Ennio Morricone score. This film has plenty of odd characters but you never really find out much about them. Bobby's first encounters include a repulsive mechanic (Billy Bob Thornton under the grease) and a blind Indian (Jon Voight under the makeup). Then there's Grace McKenna (a sizzling Jennifer Lopez), who is as dangerous as the curves of her red sundress. Bobby's got time to kill and Grace seems more than willing. Unfortunately, it seems that Bobby has never seen a movie such as A Touch of Evil
; if he had, he would know it can only get worse. About the time Grace's husband, Jake (Nick Nolte), shows up, Bobby is knee-deep in murder plots and double-crosses.
The first 40 minutes or so are "fun" to a point. Penn is the perfect near-creep to root for and as he wanders back into town after meeting Grace, the eclectic characters pile up. But soon it gets monotonous, tiring and just plain ugly. And when incest and bloody fights begin, the fun is gone. If Penn wasn't so solid an actor and able to be empathetic in the most morose situations, the movie would be unwatchable in stretches. Lopez makes another good impression but this is not a performance that stands out. Nolte, raspy and ill-looking, is the Lee Marvin of the 90s. Before U-Turn is over, you are already wondering if Oliver Stone will do something else, something more important, soon. --Doug Thomas
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.