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A simple plan

Threat advisory: Severe - Severe risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Captivated by the lure of sudden wealth, the quiet, rural lives of two brothers erupt into conflicts of greed, paranoia and distrust when over $4 million dollars in cash is discovered at the remote site of a downed small aeroplane. Their simple plan to retain the money while avoiding detection opens a Pandora's Box when the fear of getting caught triggers panicked behaviour that quickly spirals out of control and leads to virulent consequences.

Innocent people get hurt and desperate people turn into dangerous people, as the finders of the cash-stuffed duffel bag go deeper and deeper into its star-crossed destiny.

Starring Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton and Jane Fonda, directed by Sam Raimi. Based on the novel and screenplay written by Scott B Smith.

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

A simple plan is Fargo on speed.

The first thing to note is that it snows in this town. Get used to it. The second thing to note is that this town is full of white trash. And when I say full, I mean full. The third thing is that everybody loses.

I like films where everybody loses. It reminds me of life.

But A simple plan is not just a Fargo clone - it is based way over at the other end of the spectrum. Instead of a Sheriff trying to find crooks in the snow, we have crooks trying to hide from Sheriffs in the snow. That the crooks were otherwise innocent bystanders who have fallen foul of temptation just makes it even juicier; the plot doesn't so much twist as it does writhe.

The acting is brilliant - managing both intensity and believability all round. (I didn't quite get that Bill and Billy Bob were brothers until well into the film, but America is so in-bred that anything can happen.) The continuity also deserves mentioning: filming with weather, let alone inclement weather is a continuity nightmare, but I saw no errors at all! Well done.

I will also mention the direction and editing, because they are so well done that the tension winds itself tighter and tighter until you just wish they would all give themselves up and be done with it (like having your tooth drilled without anaesthetic) (as if).

A simple plan is a thriller recommended to any intelligent filmgoer, and even ones who just like to go along for the ride. If it were any better I might have had to kill someone.

Security censorship classification

M (Medium level violence, medium level coarse language)

Surveillance time

121 minutes (2:01 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: Undated December 2000
DVD retail: 10 July 2002
VHS retail: 10 July 2002

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