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Dark, gritty and some very nice images
philip_vanderveken28 March 2005
"U Turn" seems to be a movie that not many people have enjoyed and I really wonder why that is. I'm not saying that it was the best movie ever, but it sure deserves better than what most people over here say about it.

The story starts with Bobby Cooper (Sean Penn), driving somewhere in the middle of the desert in Arizona, on his way to pay the bookies that have already taken two of his fingers because he was too late to pay them. His car breaks down and the only option that he has is to leave the main road and to go to a small, dusty town called Superior. In this town live all kind of weird people. A blind Indian who doesn't do much else but drinking Dr. Pepper on a bench, next to his dead dog; a dumb garage owner; a young macho, called T.N.T, who seems to come straight from the fifties and his nymphomaniac girlfriend... Bobby Cooper wants to get out of there as quickly as possible. But he has one problem. He's got no money because he was robbed and the mechanic charges him an enormous price for the repairs. He can't do anything else but to stay in the village, to try to live with these weird people and to stay out of the hands of the bookies until he has found some money...

I must say that I was quite surprised by this movie. The way everything was shot is really well done and the music (composed and selected by Ennio Morricone) gives it all an extra touch. Even all the acting was very convincing. With people like Sean Penn, Billy Bob Thornton, Joaquin Phoenix and Nick Nolte I don't expect anything less than a good performance. But it has to be said: Jennifer Lopez, who certainly isn't a great actress, was actually pretty good in this movie.

All in all this is a very good movie, plenty of dark humor, good acting and some very nice shots. Personally I think this is one of Oliver Stone's finer movies and that's why I give it a 7.5/10.
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A grim but comic confection.
planzing9 August 1999
In "U-Turn," Oliver Stone narrows his focus from the broad-canvass projects he typically produces. Those seeking the knowing profundities of "JFK" or "Nixon" will be disappointed. This is a genre picture of the desert southwestern potboiler variety, a much-updated "Painted Desert" kind of film. Lots of bad luck, scorpions, whiskey, sexual perversity, bullying, greed, lots of sweat and very little shaving. The basic questions begged by a movie like this one are these: Who will have sex? Who will live? Who will die? And who will end up with the money? By the final reel, all these questions are very satisfactorily answered. For a picture of this type, "U-Turn" is very good indeed.

Sean Penn is smashing, Nolte has never been creepier, and Jennifer Lopez is, er, extremely effective in this film's only real female role. John Voight, buried in the role a mystic Indian, is most entertaining. And we get another patented oddball performance by Billy Bob Thornton that is absolutely worth the price of admission. For good measure, Juaquin Phoenix and Claire Danes deliver a too-brief but electrifying turn as a young couple adept at creating trouble. As if Sean Penn, in this picture, didn't have enough already.

Sure, the predictable desert atmospherics are a bit overdone. But the solid script by John Ridley, the letter-perfect performances, and Stone's sure directorial hand make this one of his better films.

This movie is out of the theatres, so one word to you parents about "U-Turn." This is not one to watch in the presence of the kiddies. It contains very graphic and violence and sexual material clearly unsuitable for young folk or the sensitive soul of any age.

But if you like your film noir with sand and scorpions thrown in for good measure, this is a sure-fire rental that will leave you fully satisfied.
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Black humour of a kind rarely seen in mainstream Hollywood
pfgpowell-111 April 2007
As usual before adding my two ha'porth-worth of comment, I looked at other comments (including Roger Ebert). And, although I didn't read all of them (there are very many), I was surprised that none I read seemed to pick up what was perfectly obvious to me: this is a very funny film, but done in a deadpan style. So deadpan, in fact, that I'm not surprised that might be news to many. I have, coincidentally, recently been buying up on DVD quite a few classic film noir (Build My Gallows High, The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers) and like everyone else thought that the era of film noir had come and gone and that such films were no longer being produced. Well, blow me if I'm not very wrong: this is quintessential film noir (though done in colour and with the proviso that most film noir is not intended to be funny). It would be pointless to recount the plot, but if you liked all those classic Mitchum/Bogart/Van Helin/Edwrad g Robinson etc films, you will love this. Sean Penn never disappoints. By the way the very final twist in the plot had me laughing out loud. Go for it: you won't be disappointed.
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Probably not the best advertisement for Superior, AZ
noizyme5 February 2005
This is one of my favorite Oliver Stone films. It has everything (cheating incestuous sex, chopping off digits, a dumb hick mechanic, a blind native American who wants Dr. Pepper all the time, etc etc etc) that a well-rounded movie needs, plus it was completely done in a comic fashion. It is closest to Stone's other film "Natural Born Killers" by way of stylish camera shots and the addition of comedy into a dramatic setting.

Sean Penn brilliantly plays the lead character, whose car blows a radiator hose out in the middle of the Arizona desert, and the closest town is that of Superior, AZ, a dirt-road town with barely 1,000 people living there, if that. Penn goes through hell from the beginning when random characters in the city want something from him and in return, it drives him to try his best to get the hell out of Superior. Everything during his days in Superior is centered around money and the fact that he has hardly any. So he gets schemed into murders, and he gets whatever little he has taken away from him (his train ticket gets ripped up by the local hoodlum, TNT, again brilliantly played by Joaquin Phoenix, and he has several full bottles of beverages broken for different reasons). Therefore, he's constantly running in circles to get out of this town.

There is an all-star cast (back then, and now) of actors: Jennifer Lopez (a better singer than actress), Nick Nolte, Joaquin Phoenix, Billy Bob Thornton (the best among the bunch as the hick mechanic), Sean Penn, Claire Danes, Liv Tyler (only for a second in the train station), and Jon Voight...all packed into a nice DVD. The music had that comic, light-hearted side to it (with the country sound of a jew's-harp played over violin or whatever, etc) which helped you to see the irony that is driving him to madness in this town. Again the camera shots were awesome, and they had that Oliver Stone quality of the 90's where he would switch frames with the villain of the movie with an animal skull and switch the point-of-view to see what the actors are seeing, and so on.

I didn't like the ending so much. I kind of wanted things to resolve themselves, but instead, things just keep on falling into the bad-luck-category of his life. I also hated Jennifer Lopez's delivery of lines (just like in any other movie with her...The Cell, etc) because they feel so fake and put on that you know the director was just looking for T&A for the film. Also she doesn't play a native American very well. She has a thick accent straying too much towards Latino that you don't pick up on any cultural change until you get the story.

Overall, though, (bad point aside) it is a brilliant movie that is easy to watch if you like the other Stone films. I had to give it a 9/10 for great performances, great music, awesome story, and everything in between. Go out and buy it if your a fan of any of the actors listed above, or if you are trying to find a great weekend film with friends.
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Modern noir with a dark twist...
centurymantra-225 July 2000
Brilliant & hallucinatory cinematography, impeccable use of music, and a handful of dark, edgy character sketches all work together very nicely to make this bleak, dark-humoured desert noir an overlooked highlight of Oliver Stone's career. The highly evocative atmosphere plays out against the Arizona desert in a way that (in addition to foreshadowing some of the work done in Terry Gilliam's own twisted little masterpiece 'Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas') seems to mirror, in a more subtle and tasteful manner, much of Stone's work in 'Natural Born Killers'. However, rather than hitting us over the head with whatever socially charged 'message' he may have been attempting to convey in that film, here he is simply content to let it build up a thick and steamy ambience that moves our hapless comrades on towards their own impending personal apocalypse. Nick Nolte, Sean Penn, and Jennifer Lopez all turn in great performances and Billy Bob Thornton's eccentric character sketch elevates what may be defined as a bit part to a far more relevant status. Modern noir with a few dark twists and a taste all it's own that's well worth digging into...for those who have a taste for this kind of thing, if you know what I mean.
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Gritty and brutal, but entertaining as all hell.
ilovedolby23 May 2003
`U Turn' is an assault on the senses. But then again, what more can one expect from director Oliver Stone whose innovative brand of filmmaking is often filled with characters that are violent, insane, heroic, and even bizarre. `U Turn' has many characters played by big name actors that intertwine themselves around a central character, in this case, played by Sean Penn (`Casualties Of War'). Ultimately, a film about getting away with murder, `U Turn' is an intriguing blend of story, violence, and strange people. `U Turn' takes place during a hot day in Arizona where we meet our principal character, Bobby (Penn), who is on his way to California to pay a debt to the mob that has helped him in one way or the other. When his car breaks down, Bobby is forced to have a redneck, roadside mechanic, named Darrell (Billy Bob Thornton), fix it. While his car is in the shop, he ends up walking into a local town where he meets some very eccentric people from a blind vagrant (Jon Voight), a drunken sheriff, a hillbilly and his girlfriend, to an exotic woman who sticks out like a sore thumb against the simplicity of the town. Every person he encounters ultimately leads to a conclusion that he could never have expected. Robert Richardson whose superb cinematography has been used in several films of note filmed `U Turn' masterfully. Richardson's craft with a camera can be seen in such other movies as `The Horse Whisperer,' `Snow Falling On Cedars,' and `The Four Feathers.' With its rough cuts, non-steady cam shots, and scenes filmed as the sun glaring down on the actors, Richardson's work gives a harsh and nauseating feel to the film. Stone's direction was excellent. He's an admirable director in that he doesn't follow the mainstream concepts that are commonly seen in most motion pictures. Watching a Stone film is like watching graduate film students show off their work-it's fresh, energetic, and exciting. `U Turn,' undoubtedly, has some of 1997s best performances. Penn is outstanding as a guy who just keeps happening on the wrong place at the wrong time. Jennifer Lopez is surprisingly good in her performances as the wife of a real estate salesman. Lopez seems to have some talent on the screen…unlike her singing career. Her performance in another offbeat movie, `Out Of Sight,' was also good. Nick Nolte is as Nick Nolte does-he's rough around the edges, perverse and violent as the real estate salesman who seems to rule over the sleepy town. Other performances of note are that of Thornton has a slack-jawed yokel mechanic. Joaquin Phoenix (`Signs') as a hillbilly and his simple-minded girlfriend, played by Claire Danes (`The Hours') give the film a hysterical notch. Other points of interest in the film are the score, composed by veteran, Italian, film composer Ennio Morrcone (`Mission To Mars') whose music adds a humorous atmosphere to the irony of the film. All in all, `U Turn' is a film that is gritty and brutal, but entertaining as all hell. ***1/2
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Sordid tales in a little town of the southern USA.
adam-x10 December 2004
A marked gambler (Penn) on the run, comes to a little town in the middle of nowhere, south USA. A town filled with very unusual characters, sordid secrets and strange opportunities, that seem very appealing to this "Pat Poker" on the run, which desperately needs money to pay the idiotic, redneck town mechanic. Penn and Nolte are at the greatest level, and Lopez fills the requisites of her character. Beautiful piece of writing, with surprising plot twists which make way to a most brilliant ending, "Stone" style despair. A very misunderstood work by this brilliant, all-American director. Another piece of genuine America, with all her virtues and even more flaws, seen trough "stone" cold eyes...
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Oliver Stones' best film by a wide margin.
terraplane9 January 2004
U Turn is a great film. Of course it borrows from other films, so what? Sean Penn turns in a great performance as does Nick Nolte, Billy Bob Thornton and Jon Voight.Jennifer Lopez does her best to keep up with the seasoned professionals and by and large succeeds. As the story unfolds we get some great cameo performances from Voight and Thornton, whilst Penn pulls out all the stops. The twisting noir-ish plot succeeds in keeping us enthralled for the duration. None of the characters are particularly likeable which could be a problem in certain circumstances but in this film it just serves to make us enjoy their various fates. If Stone were to make smaller scale films like this instead of overblown rubbish like Any Given Sunday, Natural Born Killers and The Doors he might just find a more willing audience.
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Billy Bob Thornton And Joaquin Phoenix Stole The Movie, With What Little Parts They Had.
FrancesTheWHORE8 March 2005
U-Turn is about a man named Bobby Cooper (Sean Penn) who is on his way to pay a debt to a gangster when his car breaks down in the small, redneck town of Superior. There, Bobby is taken advantage of by the good IL' boys in every way possible, from the dirty mechanic to the town sheriff. He meets a beautiful girl named Grace (Jennifer Lopez) and falls for her, and she seemingly falls for him as well. From here, there are twists and turns in the plot all the way to the very end of the movie.

Sean Penn was decent as Bobby, but seemed a bit week and was taken advantage of a bit too easily. I guess that was Bobby's character so he did a good job. Jennifer Lopez did not have as big a part as I thought, but she did OK with it. Nothing spectacular, just OK.

The characters that stole the movie, in my honest opinion, were Darrell the mechanic (Billy Bob Thornton) and Toby N. Tucker (Joaquin Phoenix). They had the redneck stereotypes down pat, especially Thornton.

This movie was a decent little thriller. I am glad I did not see it way back when it was in theaters but it is OK for a rental. I give 7 of 10 stars.
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Good film
dav7nine18 September 2004
I have to say this film was sort of what I thought it was... I really enjoyed it!

I've seen Sean Penn in a few films now and they're all good. Oliver Stone is one of the finest men in film production. It's visually stunning, loads of mad camera pans and colour blast-outs! The supporting cast are great as well. Billy Bob Thornton looks nothing like him and is away with it, Jennifer Lopez is attractive an alluring, Nick Nolte is totally convincing and great as the wicked husband, Joiquin Phoenix is mad as TNT and possibly the best is John Voight as a blind homeless person!

A great film with a good ending... although I wouldn't like to be any of them!

A good 7/10
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A film about trust
cutloose123 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Probably my favorite film by Oliver Stone and one of my favorite opening scenes. Seems to me this film is about the state of the nation when the Indians had the land and the state its in now. None of the reviews I've read of this film have mentioned the images of Indian tribes people that pop onto the screen at various times during the movie. All of the characters in the movie betray each other at some stage. Sort of harks back to the times of broken treaties. Great shots of of the landscape go unnoticed by the the characters as they go about their selfish enterprises. Respect for the land and for one another gone. Amidst some of the humour a sad undertone.
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great cast (oh yeah.. the film too!)
brichtr111 July 2002
Warning: Spoilers
although some may hate the film for its darkness, you can't dismiss the great talent of the cast. Sean Penn was amazing as his constantly tormented character, Billy Bob Thornton was almost unrecognizable and his character soon became just as equally easy to hate, Claire Danes was funny "You killed him!" I almost died laughing.. but perhaps the BEST part of the movie was the sadly short but scene stealing role by Joaquin Phoenix! I actually bought this movie (as a DVD too!) JUST because he was in it.. in fact i was on a hunt for Joaquin movies.. and i am glad to say that I wasn't disappointed. He is not only an amazing actor (and scene stealer ^__^) but also able to be funny as hell! (Toby N. Tucker!) He also really gets into the roles (he shaved TNT into his hair for christ's sake! ).

Thankfully though I really liked the movie. It is dark, but that doesn't make it a bad movie, ONLY a movie that people who hate dark movies obviously wouldn't like. And that's all there is to it. (**SPOILER**) I admit I was disappointed when Bobby died at the end.. but at the same time I was also relieved. You can't for one second think that with all of his bad luck and bad decisions that he's gonna live happily ever after.. It went with the whole dark theme of the movie.

I also want to say that movies are SOO much better when you have NO idea what you are about to see. Your mind is untainted and unbiased on what is going to happen/how good it will be/etc. and you really get to judge it on your own, based on your own likes and dislikes. I had no idea what I was going to get when I bought this movie (other than Joaquin Phoenix ^_^) and it made the sick twisted plot of the movie that much more surprising. It really is a "weird" movie, but at least it's good at what it does.
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Somebody get me a scriptwriter!
niteman28 October 1998
U-Turn is less a movie than a sequence of scenes, loosely connected by common characters. It begins with Sean Penn arriving in a small Arizona town, on the lam from a loan shark and missing several fingers. During the course of the movie, various things happen. Penn's character connects with a feisty young Latina who may or may not be having sex with her father. Claire Danes puts in a brief appearance as a hick stereotype, as does Vince Vaughan. Things happen, in no particular order and for no particular reason, for a good six and a half hours. Finally, the film ends, having boldly ignored such niceties as character development and story arc. A muddled, boring, overlong mess of a movie.
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If I ever meet Oliver Stone.....
PClark8 July 1999
If I ever meet Oliver Stone, I am afraid I am going to beat him over the head with a heavy object, until someone drags me off of his lifeless body. The whole time, I will be repeating the same word over and over - "U-TURN! U-TURN! U-TURN"

I believe Oliver Stone is one of the great directors of his generation. I love off-beat movies, especially those that use dark humor and feature seedy, amoral characters. Everything about this film seemed like it would be a winner. That is, until I actually saw it.

Words can not describe how horrible this film is. The script is pathetic, the acting is offensively poor (especially Sean Penn), there is no pacing to speak of, and what little humor there is suffers from miserable timing. But I could have forgiven all of these flaws, had it not been for the hatchet job of directing turned in by Stone. Oliver Stone is very gifted, but it seems like he just can't help but show off sometimes. This film was a montage of Stone's worst moments. A great director is one who can create compelling images, while making those images seem to naturally flow together into a coherent story. Throughout this film, I got the distinct impression that Oliver Stone was sitting next to me, nudging my shoulder every five minutes and saying "Did you see that! I'm a great director, huh? Just wait to you see the next neat trick I do!" It reminded me of the effort of an arrogant first year film student, not the work of a seasoned, award winning professional.

Billy Bob Thornton and Claire Daynes had a couple of humorous moments, but they could do nothing to stem the tide of this disaster. Oliver Stone should be ashamed of himself.

If you want to watch an Oliver Stone film, watch "Salvador" or "Platoon". Avoid this movie at all costs.
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Sort of good but not really
Derek23720 February 2004
I'm a huge fan of Oliver Stone, he's one of my favourite directors, but I've never been so on-the-fence about any of his movies. U-Turn has many good qualities, and also many bad qualities, too. I loved all the scenes with Bobby's interaction with the crazy townspeople, and I couldn't help but be amused when something bad happens to him. But the actual plot is stupid. The twists, turns, and double-crossings were so ridiculous that it seems like it's just spoofing a bunch of movies with those kinds of plot lines. It likely was the intention, but that still doesn't make it right. It's highlight is mostly the great cast and great acting.

U-Turn is definitely at the bottom of the list when it comes to Oliver Stone films, but if you've seen 'em all, you might as well see this one, too. After all, there are plenty of fans of the movie, and I sort of thought it was good....and kind of liked it. But I know Stone is above this and I expected more.

My rating: 5/10
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A Twisted Tale Of Lust, Murder & Treachery
seymourblack-122 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
"U Turn" is often over the top, surreal and comical and Oliver Stone's style of direction plays along with these qualities perfectly. In everything he does, he favours excess over subtlety and utilises a variety of quick and often disconcerting visual techniques to create the hallucinogenic backdrop against which this twisted drama is played out. A collection of highly eccentric characters and some extraordinary performances from a star-studded cast also adds greatly to the enjoyment of watching this interesting treatment of a standard film noir plot (which bears a strong resemblance to "Red Rock West").

Bobby Cooper (Sean Penn)is a drifter who's driving to Las Vegas to pay off some gambling debts when his car's radiator hose blows and he has to make a detour to the town of Superior, Arizona to get a replacement fitted. Whilst his car is being repaired, Bobby goes into the town centre and almost straightaway, meets Grace McKenna (Jennifer Lopez). She's an attractive woman who needs assistance to carry some newly purchased drapes back to her home and Bobby is pleased to help. They start to get friendly and just as Bobby has his arms around her, Grace's husband Jake (Nick Nolte), arrives and punches Bobby to the ground.

A little while later, after Bobby's left Grace's house, Jake offers him a significant amount of money to kill his wife because he's tired of her games. Bobby doesn't show any interest in the offer at that time but does later, after he loses all his money in strange circumstances after unintentionally getting caught up in a convenience store robbery. Before Bobby can go ahead with the planned murder, Grace persuades him to kill Jake so that they can steal her husband's money and go away together. They go ahead with their plan but a series of complications follow and eventually lead to a very tense and unpredictable end to the story.

Bobby Cooper is a typical noir protagonist who suffers a misfortune that leads to a whole series of other problems, which all inevitably become more serious and dangerous than the last. This ex-tennis player with a gambling problem had already had two fingers cut off by the gangsters to whom he owed money before he arrived in Superior and the bad luck he suffered when his car broke down was exploited by the unscrupulous mechanic at the local garage who kept raising the cost of the job and threatening Bobby in various ways. Bobby's attraction to Grace got him caught up in a web of lust, murder and treachery and random misfortunes led to him losing his money and becoming trapped in this desert town with no means of escape. His awful predicament is then made even worse by his certain knowledge that the gangsters who want their money back know where he is and are coming to get him.

Sean Penn is wonderfully intense and conveys his character's sheer desperation with immense power and conviction. There are also, however, very memorable performances by the rest of the cast who all look as if they're having a lot of fun in their roles as some of the most weird and devious people imaginable.

Billy Bob Thornton stands out as the malevolent mechanic with a disgusting appearance and Nick Nolte is suitably gruff and repulsive as a man with an appalling past and no morals. Jon Voight makes a big impression as an allegedly blind Vietnam veteran who's a beggar with a penchant for making philosophical pronouncements and Jennifer Lopez is very good as the femme fatale.

This neo-noir account of one man's nightmare contains so many elements that are recognisable from other film noirs that it ultimately becomes a glorious pastiche in which its many moments of dark humour act as a marvellous counterpoint to all the evil and violence that are prevalent throughout the whole story.
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Dark Comedy Film Noir served with fineness
djderka1 January 2011
Compelling characters & cast drive film noir into excellent sunset.

Have you every felt down on yourself. Nothing goes right during the day? Hmmmm? SEE his movie.

With twists and turns along the highway of deceit and corruption, this is a great film to watch. With great dialog, acting, characters, and sound track/score I can't understand why this film didn't make more money at the BO.

This dark comedy film noir is a character and cast buffet of delightful snacks. Imagine a town with: Hero on the run from the mob stranded in town, the local filthy, goofy rip-off backyard mechanic, a ultra hot sexy femme fatale, tough local sheriff, really crusty old local perverted rich guy, crusty old poetic blind man, cranky & flirty troublesome young couple, Russian mob hit man chasing Hero.

Stir, simmer for two hours add Ollie Stone. Yummy! a great stew to be savored with a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon

Guys will need a cold shower after watching femme fatale Grace seduce Bobby while she is hanging her new curtains. (Does the carpet match the drapes?)


Darrell convinces Bobby that it will be hard to fix a blown radiator hose on his 1964 ½ Mustang. (Great Scene)
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More Sarcasm Than Tragedy
zardoz-1325 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Watching "JFK" director Oliver Stone's movie "U-Turn" is like gawking at a gory accident. You know that you shouldn't stare, but the attraction of the mayhem is just too hypnotic. Everything that takes place in "U-Turn" qualifies as both gory and accidental. None of these grisly characters is remotely sympathetic. They bare their rotten-to-the-core, maggot-infested souls at every turn. Never do they fail to betray a trust. Not even the designated hero, played by Sean Penn, possesses any redeeming qualities. Disgusting and repellent as "U-Turn" appears, Stone casts a cinematic spell over this sow's ear and transforms it into a silk purse. Sprawling amid scenic, sun-drenched Arizona, "U-Turn" resembles visually a modern-day spaghetti western with its parched terrain, its grainy images, and its eccentric Ennio Morricone soundtrack. Morricone, you may recall, scored something like 60 Italian oaters. Anyway, his operatic music bristles with the kind of thorny twangs that accent character and underscore atmosphere.

Scenarist John Ridley adapted his novel about murder and incest entitled "Stray Dogs." This saga is as recklessly amoral as they come. You'll probably recognize the other movie genre with which it collides. The 1940s film noir genre featured doomed characters wallowing helplessly in a bottomless quicksand of tragedy. Guided by motives and instincts less than charitable, these characters displayed no qualms about selling out. Movies such as "Double Indemnity" (1944), "Detour" (1945), and "Out of the Past" (1947) and more recent efforts like "Red Rock West" (1993) epitomize film noir. More so than even these movies, "U-Turn" festers like an unsightly pustule and let its loathsome elements disperse in all their unsavory glamor on the big screen. No, "U-Turn" doesn't celebrate the human spirit; it destroys it. It's a movie where everything goes as wrong as it can go.

Things have been going wrong for Bobby Cooper (Sean Penn) long before we see him cruising though the steamy desolation of Arizona in a 1964 red convertible Mustang. He plans to pay off his debt there to a nasty Russian loan shark. This $30-thousand debt has already cost him the last two fingers of his left hand. Bobby used to be a tennis coach, so you can see what irreversible damage this ritual mutilation has had on him. Somewhere in the desert near Globe, Arizona, Bobby's Mustang overheats. His radiator hose blows so he wheels into Darrell's garage. One look at Darrell (Billy Bob Thornton of "Sling Blade"), a grimy, motor-oil encrusted redneck mechanic who exposes his navel for all to see, and Bobby fears the worst. Since our protagonist cannot afford to take his car elsewhere, he leaves it in Darrell's greasy hands. One thing you can say about "U-Turn" is that it loosens a motley crew of characters. You would never eat dinner with any of these scum bags. You don't feel much sympathy for them either because they are all such pathetic wretches.

Bobby runs into the beguilingly seductive Grace (Jennifer Lopez of "Anaconda") on her way to hang drapes. He convinces her to let him lug her load. Later, at her palatial ranch house, Bobby makes a pass, and Grace reciprocates. Bursting in on them comes Grace's squinty-eyed husband Jake (Nick Nolte of "North Dallas Forty"). He drops Bobby with a knuckle-sandwich to the nose. Afterward, when Jake and Bobby get to acting like pals, Jake tries to persuade Bobby to kill Grace. Jake has a $50-thousand insurance plan on her. Bobby refuses. He is only waiting for Darrell to fix his ride and then he is out of there.

Each scene in "U-Turn" is a visual tour-de-force. Some of the images are particularly haunting. Grace tells Bobby about a fortune in cash that Jake has stashed in a floor safe. Stone shows us a high-angle shot of a naked Nolte sitting on the floor with a raven perched on his shoulder as he counts his loot. The scene on a mountain where Bobby nearly pushes Grace to her death has a breathless, high-wire quality. Stone knits the exposition (stuff you need to know about the characters and the plot) seamlessly into the action. During a shower, Bobby relives the painful memory of having his fingers clipped off in a storm.

The performances are magnetic. Sean Penn has never been more expressive as a jinxed gambler who swears his luck is indestructible. Nolte is incredibly lecherous as Jake. Gaunt, with fuzzy whiskers that match his cropped thatch of hair, Nolte appears straight out of chemotherapy. Lopez exudes a warm, sensuous sexuality that has the wail of the sirens calling in it. Powers Boothe plays a suspicious, hard-bitten sheriff who doesn't like what he sees going on between Bobby and Grace.

Oliver Stone said he wanted to produce a movie with no political agenda. "I wanted to make a film that would be judged on its merits as a movie and not be debated because of whatever political or social 'message' someone might want to read into it or impose on it." As off-beat and amoral as "U-Turn" emerges, perhaps the controversial director should have given more thought to his intentions. "U-Turn" seems as much of an indictment of contemporary American society as "Platoon" was about Vietnam. "U-Turn," however, is played more for sarcasm than tragedy.
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Red Rock West anyone?
00Mike265 August 2000
This is totally unoriginal, uninteresting, and Stone's stylised direction becomes downright laughable after about the third or fourth montage of images. And what is all that about with Jon Voight? Is this film supposed to be a self-parody? Sean Penn is okay and Jennifer Lopez is convincing enough but, hello!!! Script, plot...anyone there?

Just see the vastly superior Red Rock West with Nicholas Cage, Dennis Hopper, and the marvelously pure evil J.T.Walsh.
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Like Tarantino, only worse.
luciano-3719 June 2006
This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Sean Penn is stranded in a strange city where everybody seems to realize his problems and his struggle, and insist on being particularly mean to him, just for the sake of being mean.

It is a lot like Chevy Chase in National Lampoon's Vacation or Griffin Dunne in After Hours, in the sense that we watch an incredibly hapless main character go through an incredibly terrible day and we're supposed to call that entertainment. Except that instead of a comedy this one is a mean and boring excuse for a thriller where everybody is weird and bad-ass, so the whole thing reeks of Tarantino or any of those awful El Mariachi sequels.

There are indeed several twists in the plot, but all of them are predictable and absolutely unable to make the film a little interesting. The end doesn't even try to make up for the rest of the experience. It's just as dull and silly.

The only good thing I can say about this film is that the cast is very good. There are lots of good acting, but the story and the overall atmosphere is so brain dead that I couldn't really enjoy the acting.

I always found that Oliver Stone's movies were excessively long-winded and pretentious. Now I read here at IMDb that he "wanted to make a small film that he would enjoy seeing as a teenager". So he is definitely a major idiot, and I will never see any of his movies again.

I give it 3 stars, for the acting. Maybe the actors deserved more for the acting, but they also deserve a penalty for signing up such a bad script.
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How could it go so wrong??
mr_me20 April 2006
The cast of this film is amazing, along with a great director, so how did this film turn out to be so unwatchable? None of the blame lies on the actors, although you do wonder why they would sign up for something with such a bad screenplay!

Loathsome characters, dire setting, badly edited and way too drawn out. The soundtrack doesn't help much either, creating a horrible atmosphere. I believe this is Oliver Stones attempt at a Quentin Tarantino move, but fails on so many levels. It's actually depressing to think about, knowing that I wasted two hours of my life watching it. I would love to meet Oliver Stone and beat him over the head with the DVD I wasted £3.99 on.
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Stuck in Superior
Kill-Gore25 December 2002
Your average Oliver Stone fan would say (at least in my experience) that U Turn is his worst film. In a list of socially conscious films, usually critical of "the system" in one way or another, U Turn certainly stands out as uncharacteristic, or so it might seem. I think Oliver Stone may well be the best director there is and in my opinion U Turn is his best film.

In Hollywood you get movies that are actually vehicles as they say for action, gratuitous sex, violence, cheap scares, laughs, etc. That is to say, these movies exist merely to provide the viewer with plenty of (fill in the blank), and the plot is merely a line taking the viewer from one (fill in the blank) sequence to another. I see U Turn as a vehicle for art, and the plot is really just intended to bring the viewer from one brilliantly visually composed episode of colorful character interaction to another. Not to be confused with art house fare, with all its pretentiously multilayered, obscure self referential metaphors and what have you. Save that stuff for the beatniks. The art of U Turn is in its extra dimensional visual narrative, which makes use of brief cuts of imagery and often sound to interrupt the scene, so as to give mental impressions visual representation. You don't watch U Turn, you experience it.

So when someone says U turn is an inferior imitation of Red Rock West for instance, and I've seen this comparison made time and time again, I have to laugh. As if Stone would lower himself to such an undertaking. While the plot may resemble that of Red Rock West, the plot alone is almost inconsequential when talking about the value of U Turn as a film.

The value of U Turn is in the way it visualizes the mental, a technique Stone has referred to as cubism. As with Picasso's cubism, which was his way of conveying the third dimension of an image while limited to a flat medium, Stone's "cubism" is intended to visualize what you know is there but can't see: the mental. This cubism has been present in most of Oliver Stone's recent projects: traces of it in The Doors and JFK, over the top in Natural Born Killers, subtly used but obviously present in Nixon, and finally executed to perfection in U Turn.

So in this respect, U Turn is perfectly characteristic of his body of work, maybe not as a filmmaker but certainly as an artist. As Stone develops a mastery of his cubism in future films (we see it again in Any Given Sunday), we will look back and realize that U Turn is the standard against which these films are to be measured.

Having said my piece about cubism, let me say a few words about the characters in U Turn. U Turn is a surrealistic odyssey into Bobby Cooper's limbo, and its other characters are the obstacles that keep him trapped there. Every character given any screen time simply shines. The actors in U Turn understand (better than many viewers do unfortunately) that their role in the film is a joke. Jake, Darrell, the Sheriff, Jenny and Toby, the blind man, even Bobby - these are spoofs (for lack of a better word) on their character types. This is not over acting, these are comic performances carried out with talent rarely seen. The strength of U Turn's characters is comparable only to that of a movie like Apocalypse Now. Again here we have a movie that is a surrealistic odyssey not to watch but to experience. Kilgore, Chef, the Photo Journalist, these too were comic performances. In movies like these, each character is really an episode in the narrative of the protagonist's journey.

Apocalypse Now was ahead of its time and U Turn, I think, will prove to be as well.

10 out of 10. A UNIQUE film experience.
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Do you like watching a guy get kicked in the balls for 90 minutes?
chas7715 January 1999
I used to be a huge Oliver Stone fan: loved the Doors, JFK, NBK, just about everything except for "The Hand." No more. U-Turn has to be one of the biggest disappointments. Trying for a genre film with black comedic moments, Stone fails completely. The viewer watches Penn's character with anticipation, waiting to see what's going to happen, how is he going to make a positive transition...well, it never happens. The guy gets kicked in the balls -- figuratively -- for the entire length of the film. That's what this damn movie is all about. If that's your bag...
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The Bomb
JJohns26 February 2003
I love dark humor. I can't believe that I haven't commented on this movie earlier. How could I forget a masterpiece? This was Oliver Stone's (aside from Natural Born Killers) most innovative, articulate and unconventional piece of work I have seen. I was very pleased as the credits rolled. And I can't even give you a summary of the story. Just go rent it.

This movie was based on artistic merit and the actors did an excellent job as they executed their roles with such delicacy and ease. My hat off to the writer in which this movie was based on. You felt and understood each of the characters as wacky as they were. Lets see, it was an all star cast with Voight, Boothe, Nolte, Thorton,Pheonix and that skinny girl. Even Liv Tyler was in this.

This is one of those movies where time is a factor working against the character in need of a resolution but is restrained with a host of bizarre circumstances such as a busted car pipe, a Russian gangster on his tail, a beautiful but dangerous beauty with a complex past, a U-turn, and a host of other goodies for the plot storyline. Once again classics like Memento, The Usual Suspects, When a Stranger Calls, and American Beauty place you in the story. How innovative and unique.

I initially came in clueless of what this movie was really about but, I liked Sean Penn, and Jennifer Lopez when she was just Jennifer Lopez. The previews were brief but interesting about seemingly simple events that take a turn for the worse. Sounds trite to say this but, I loved this movie.
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one of the best ever stone movie
atrotet14 January 2003
Hi all Im french and not fond of hollywood movies but Oliver Stone's movies have always let me with this feeling i like about watching a movie... I remember when this movie first came out in the cinema, really bad critiques, but i never trusted the critiques(good or bad). I decided to go and see it and this was one of my best moment i never encountered. This movie is for me a great achievement of stone... The colors are really artistics, as in most stone movie but id say this one is bit ahead.Camera shooting are so beautifull, and the music... The story is quite bloody but funny in the meantime, and well acted by lopez and penn. Definetely it is my favourite Stone movie with platoon. Enjoy life all of u Alexis
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