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A Simple Plan

Starring: Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton
Director: Sam Raimi
Genre: Drama / Thriller
Year: 1998
Rating: 4 / 5

What would you do if you found a bag of money buried in the snow? No one is around, and four million dollars rests comfortably in a bag right in front of you. What would you do? This is the question that faces three men in A Simple Plan, a riveting thriller from director Sam Raimi (Darkman, Army of Darkness). Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton play brothers Hank and Jacob Mitchell, two small-town residents whose lives seem to have followed differing paths to the same destination - nowhere. Is this their ticket to a better life? Or is this merely an opportunity that is not what it seems?

Cruising down a deserted country road, Hank, Jacob, and Lou are forced to swerve to avoid hitting an awestruck animal. As country boys Jacob and Lou head off into the woods to end its life, Hank has no choice but to follow. Progressing deeper into the woods, the three stumble upon a plane crash. It seems that the plane has been down for some time now, and is completely buried under snow. The boys burrow inside the plane, only to discover a deceased pilot and a very heavy bag. Inside, they find in excess of four million dollars, leading them on a journey that will change all of their lives.

Hank, college-educated and married to the cunning Sarah (Bridget Fonda), feels that they should return the money. Lou, a town drunk, merely wants to spend their newfound wealth, no matter what the consequences. Jacob, aligning himself somewhere in the middle, thinks they should keep it as well, as no one has bothered to lay claim to it. The key appears to be the current snowfall and whether or not the money will be missed. None of the participants can recall anything regarding a downed plane, so therefore, deeming the funds to be illegal in nature, Hank convinces the group to hide the money until the spring thaw. This way, when the plane is discovered, they can plot their next move, without drawing undue attention to themselves.

Of course, nothing is ever that easy, for the key players do not seem to trust each other. Hank has never liked Lou, and has never really respected Jacob. Hank was sent off to college, while Jacob stayed home with the family, never receiving the opportunities his younger brother had. Though Hank is only working a dead-end job at the local mill, he views his life as better than his brother's, and therefore, feels he knows what is right. As the tension mounts, and as someone steps forward to claim the money, it becomes increasingly apparent that something will have to be done. But has too much damage already been done?

A Simple Plan is an excellent story, gripping and powerful from start to finish. Bill Paxton plays his usual "everyman," while Bridget Fonda does an impressive job as his sometimes-moral wife who is looking for a better life. Even Chelcie Ross (Hoosiers) glimmers as Sherriff Carl, balancing just the right amount of country lifestyle with legal authority. Of course, Billy Bob Thornton steals the film, so much so that he was honored with a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. As the introverted, yet highly opinionated old brother, Thornton (Armageddon) conveys the pain of his conflicting allegiance - the blood that binds him to Hank, as well as the lifelong comraderie that keeps him by Lou's side. Thornton drives A Simple Plan, right up to its shocking conclusion, one which will leave the viewer pondering the true power of money.

Bill Paxton..........Hank Mitchell
Billy Bob Thornton..........Jacob Mitchell
Bridget Fonda..........Sarah
Brent Briscoe..........Lou
Gary Cole..........Baxter
Chelcie Ross..........Carl

Certification: Rated R for violence and language.
Running Time: 121 minutes.

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