(director: Roger Donaldson; screenwriter: Daniel Pyne; cinematographer: Peter Menzies; editor: Nicholas Beauman; music: Patrick O’Hearn; cast: Willem Dafoe (Sheriff Ray Dolezal), Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio(Lane Bodine), Mickey Rourke (Gorman Lebox), Samuel L. Jackson (Greg Meekers), Jammes Rebhorn (Flynn), Maura Tierney (Noreen), Mimi Rogers (Mrs. Dolzal), M.Emmet Walsh (Coroner); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Scott Rudin/William Sackheim; Warner Home Video; 1992)

A baffling thriller, filled with double-crosses, but is absorbing and mostly a fun watch.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A baffling thriller, filled with double-crosses, but is absorbing and mostly a fun watch. It’s stylishly directed by Roger Donaldson (“Smash Palace”/”Cocktail”/”The Bank Job”) and cleverly written by Daniel Pyne. It works best when dreamlike and fuzzy.

A small town deputy sheriff from New Mexico, Ray Doleral (Willem Dafoe), investigates the death of a well-dressed man, found in the ruins of an Indian village, with a suicide note and $500,000 in a briefcase. The sheriff assumes the identity of the dead man, believing a crime revolves around so much money and this is the best way to catch the guilty party. While impersonating the dead man, he’s beaten and robbed of the cash and abducted by the FBI. We soon learn the dead man worked as an informer for a manipulative FBI agent Greg Meekers (Samuel L. Jackson) and the money belongs to the agency. He’s ordered to get the money back and agrees to keep an appointment in Santa Fe with the mysterious philosophical arms dealer Gorman Lebox (Mickey Rourke). He’s also introduced to Gorman’s thrill-seeking girlfriend, the spoiled society rich girl Lane (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). This leads the honest lawman to become also involved with the CIA, and to believe he’s being set up to be the fall guy for the missing loot.

Its cumbersome plot will derail the promising premise. In the end, the film feels tired as the real villains appear and give confusing quick speeches explaining themselves.

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