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U-Turn is a quasi-film noir, drenched in gloriously excessive violence. It's not a traditional noir, in the sense that L.A. Confidential is, but still fits squarely into the genre. Director Oliver Stone has taken a stab at an uncharted genre and sliced a nerve.
Sean Penn plays Bobby Cooper, a down-on-his-luck cumpulsive gambler heading through Arizona on his way to California to pay off a $13,000 debt that recently cost him three fingers. A ways outside the anything-but-sleepy hamlet named Superior, his radiator-hose bursts. The redneck mechanic (Billy Bob Thornton) doesn't know how long it'll take to fix.
Bobby, on his way to get a cold drink, runs into a beautiful woman named Grace McKenna (sexpot Jennifer Lopez) who is on her way home to hang some drapes. Bobby -- heh heh -- offers her his services. While making out at the house, Grace's husband Jake (Nick Nolte) comes home and nearly breaks Bobby's nose. He apologizes and offers the lad a ride back to town. While driving, he offers a large sum of money to Bobby, in exchange for killing the sluttish Grace. Uh-oh!
The ending isn't much of a surprise, but it's good for a laugh. U-Turn is Stone's best work since JFK, and one of the better films of 1997. And it has made me realize that Sean Penn is indeed the world's greatest living actor. U-Turn is one good turn, and I hope to take it again.
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