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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 22.37%
Average: 17.11%
Pretty Bad: 23.68%
Total Crap: 10.53%

5 reviews, 46 user ratings

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by Rob Gonsalves

"Oliver Stone making a movie just for the hell of it; refreshing."
4 stars

Bobby Cooper (Sean Penn), the eight-fingered loser in 'U-Turn,' is stranded in the godforsaken dustbowl of Superior, Arizona land of scorpions and rednecks and whimsical, wise Indians. It's the Southwest as a mystical Satanic sandbox, depicted with trippy time-lapse photography, gory flash-cuts of torture and mutilation, lurid close-ups of snakes and radiator hoses (they both hiss in our faces). That this is an Oliver Stone film probably goes without saying.

U-Turn is a gorgeous controlled mess a rest stop for Oliver Stone, a detour from his usual heavy-breathing indictments of American apathy. It's a film noir goof, stylized from first shot to last, like David Lynch's Wild at Heart only weirder (if that's even possible). Is it a success? Visually, it isn't as abrasive as Stone's Natural Born Killers; Stone sustains a hectic mood of paranoia, yet he seems relaxed he isn't trying to say anything. U-Turn is just two hours of Oliver Stone amusing himself, and he amused me, too.

Bobby is on the run from some vaguely-drawn Russian heavies, to whom he owes serious money. He leaves his broken-down Mustang with a grubby mechanic (Billy Bob Thornton) and slouches into town, where he promptly gets in over his head. A local woman, Grace (Jennifer Lopez, luminous as always), catches Bobby's eye. He goes back to her place to help her hang some drapes; they're about to take their relationship to the next level when Grace's jealous husband Jake (Nick Nolte) storms in. Jake pops Bobby in the nose but later offers him a ride and a deal. See, Grace has a big insurance policy, and ...

Yes, I know; we're supposed to see where this is going. But surprises were never the point of film noir. Fans of the genre expect twists and double-crosses; the only surprise would be if everyone were on the level. No, noir is about style and attitude and fatalism everything that, say, Robert Mitchum could convey just by standing there. But noir can't be done straight any more. Whether a panoramic epic like L.A. Confidential or a postmodern doodle like Lynch's Lost Highway, it won't go far unless it's hitched to a larger vision obsessive, parodic, or perverse.

Stone is eager to oblige. He takes a routine script by John Ridley (adapting his novel Stray Dogs) and runs it through his caffeinated vision of an amoral, sun-baked America. He strikes gold with Nick Nolte, whose yellow crewcut and beard turn him into a rotgut John Huston. Leering and growling in the repulsive-funny manner of Rodney Dangerfield in Natural Born Killers, Nolte leaves a bad taste in your brain; it's gutsy work from a great actor. Stone also lampoons NBK's Mickey and Mallory with a strange young couple flighty pixie Claire Danes and jealous doofus Joaquin Phoenix who keep turning up to harass Bobby. Jon Voight, though underused, is dryly witty as Stone's familiar Indian sage.

Oddly, Stone all but ignores Sean Penn. Aside from some volcanic fits of rage and the hilarious toothless voice he uses in his final scene, Penn is less interesting here than in his brief appearance in The Game. When two bad boys like Stone and Penn collide, you expect more sparks to fly. But then the real star of an Oliver Stone movie is the guy himself. Like Stone's past few films, U-Turn is an abstract splatter of varying film stock and discordant editing a jagged little pill that goes down easy, only this one also wears off fast.

This long, strange trip is fun but aimless. I didn't mind; Stone can go back to firebombing the American conscience next time.

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originally posted: 02/03/07 11:02:40
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User Comments

9/16/17 morris campbell weird & boring 1 stars
4/07/13 Monday Morning Offbeat, weird, campy and very entertaining 4 stars
12/05/07 dingo Watchable 4 stars
11/11/07 reddye5 For some reason I liked this one. Penn is great, but style outweighs the story too often 3 stars
2/13/07 ES Not just boring, ugly boring 1 stars
6/27/06 Criddic2 Despite the cast, a waste of film; It is pointless, uninspired; Disappointing! 1 stars
9/23/05 Indrid Cold An all-American near-classic. The plot is just too scattered though. 4 stars
6/21/05 Tom quibell it's weird that's what I like about it 5 stars
12/04/04 Steven Loori Ham-faced/fisted/acted. End-to-end rehash. Awful set/sound design. Canned dog barks!?! 1 stars
11/12/04 jellica it was a good movie goood acting 5 stars
9/08/04 Douglas Reese I LOVED THIS MOVIE!!! Very well made. Deserved Best Picture Oscar nominee nod. 5 stars
6/06/04 John tries to make obvious moral points but has no story or charachters you care for 1 stars
12/13/03 Agent Sands I agree whole-heartedly with Ryan A, but I was a bit more entertained. 4 stars
9/15/03 Donna Gelpigi A nightmarish thriller that even Jennifer Lopez can't spoil! 5 stars
9/06/03 john awesome, fun 5 stars
7/28/03 francis Bizarrely interesting, but can we really care about what happens to these wackos. 3 stars
5/07/03 Geirn YEAHH awesome 5 stars
4/23/03 Bill go see freeway instead. 1 stars
3/22/03 Jack Sommersby Scattershot plot points fire away at the helpless cast. 2 stars
1/27/03 R.W. Welch Sets up well enough but eventually becomes almost ludicrous. 2 stars
11/09/02 Steve Twisty and funny. Lopez and Phoenix are especially good. 4 stars
10/14/02 Charles Tatum Stone proves he doesn't have to rewrite history to make a stupid movie 1 stars
7/12/02 KMG Ho-pez before she got ghetto 3 stars
8/10/01 E-Funk Interesting little 'wrong place at the wrong time' story. Lopez looks delicious. 4 stars
8/04/01 eminem 5 stars
6/22/01 Reini Urban best camera and technic this year, plot almost blood simple. much better than out of sight. 4 stars
3/19/01 Shawn I really dug this film! Sex, violence, drama, comedy, suspense, it has it all! 5 stars
2/17/01 Jake Good plot and music, way too long. Red Rock West had same plot and was way better! 3 stars
9/21/00 Mike Great cast but the plot gets pretty lame. WAY too long, Mr Stone(d)! 2 stars
8/13/00 Cidec Stark fucking awesome 5 stars
1/07/00 PervertedPixie A mix of "Romeo is bleeding", "Pulp Fiction" and "Gilbert Grape". Great stuff! 5 stars
9/21/99 Tina Liked it- nice twists- everybody dies! 4 stars
6/14/99 Dylan Oliver Stone is a fucking genius and this film rocks. thats it. 5 stars
5/27/99 GothamDK Stone trying to pull a Lynch. Jennifer Lopez is the only highlight of this lost film. 2 stars
4/15/99 Jon Jackson Why more people don't like this movie I don't know, but I do know I like cake. 5 stars
3/17/99 The Dude Fucking funny ending I loved this fucking movie 5 stars
1/23/99 Arthur fuck this shit 2 stars
12/05/98 tj usually i hate oliver stone...but this is an amazing movie...and jenn. lopez looks so good 5 stars
11/25/98 Fred Nick, think back to Cannery Row, and kick your own ass. I want Jenny. 3 stars
10/13/98 Johny No NBK or JFK, but very watchable 4 stars
9/22/98 Pat_Sicox Crack Film 3 stars
9/07/98 Damien Highly underrated, I thought it was cool and disturbing 4 stars
8/29/98 Mister Whoopee This one lost me way early. Claire Danes rocks, but otherwise... 1 stars
8/24/98 The Capital City Goofball Jen Lopez = sex --- Nick Nolte = lame. 3 stars
8/23/98 Superfly Great, if you like dark comedies. 4 stars
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  04-Oct-1997 (R)



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