ONE FALSE MOVE (1992) C 105m dir: Carl Franklin

w/Cynda Williams, Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, Jim Metzler, Michael Beach, Earl Billings, Natalie Canerday

From The Movie Guide: "A superbly understated thriller from director Carl Franklin, an AFI graduate whose previous work was limited to Roger Corman outings like NOWHERE TO RUN and FULL FATHOM FIVE. ONE FALSE MOVE opens in suburban Los Angeles with the brutal murder of several family members and friends as part of a cash and cocaine robbery. The culprits are an interracial trio made up of a sadistic redneck sociopath, Ray Malcolm (Billy Bob Thornton, who co-wrote the screenplay); Pluto (Michael Beach), a would-be criminal genius who has a mean way with a knife; and Fantasia (Cynda Williams), the femme fatale who set up the slaughter. Piecing together accounts provided by neighbors with voices recorded on a videocam, LA cops Cole and McFeely (Jim Metzler and Earl Billings) identify Pluto and Ray, both ex-cons, and discover they're on their way to Star City, Arkansas, where Ray has an uncle. (In fact, the trio's plan is to go to Houston, convert the coke into cash, and then pass through Star City so that Fantasia can see her baby boy.) As Ray, Pluto, and Fantasia wend their way through the Southwest on a road trip that becomes increasingly fraught and futile, Cole and McFeely go to Star City, where they team up with local sheriff Dale 'Hurricane' Dixon (Bill Paxton) to wait for the killers.

"ONE FALSE MOVE is a finely observed character study punctuated by some highly suspenseful, and sometimes grisly, confrontations. Franklin gives a low-key, realistic feel to the criminals' travels, throwing in docudrama-style titles to show which towns they're driving through. The killer trio's road experiences are intercut with the LA cops' almost vacation-like stay in Star City, where Dixon amuses the big-city boys with his puppyish enthusiasm and aspirations to join the LA force. The cast is uniformly first rate, with Paxton an immensely charming small-town hero, Metzler suggesting a youthful Gig Young, and Beach and Thornton a memorably evil duo."