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A Simple Plan Reviews

What wouldn't you do for a third of $4.4 million, tax-free? Lie, steal, betray your friends and family, kill? That dilemma drives director Sam Raimi's cool, spare adaptation of novelist Scott B. Smith's darkly compelling page-turner. Brothers Hank (Bill Paxton) and Jacob (Billy Bob Thornton) have grown apart since their childhood on a failing Midwestern farm. Hank went to college and got an accounting job, married pretty Sarah (Bridget Fonda), bought a small house and has a baby on the way. Jacob, never the sharpest knife in the drawer, has lived down to the role of born loser: He drinks too much, fails any test of personal grooming you can imagine, lives in a shack and pals around with Lou (Brent Briscoe), a surly, bellicose lump of seething class resentment. The three of them happen to be together when they stumble across a downed plane in the middle of some woods, a gym bag crammed with cash in the hold. The pilot is long dead and the money is obviously dirty, they tell themselves as they plot to keep the pennies from heaven. It goes without saying that the lure of free riches -- and the infinite possibilities wealth promises -- corrupts them all. Their downward spiral is like a slow-motion highway pileup: You might think you don't want to watch, but you can't tear your eyes away. The spectacle of petty depravity played out against a white-on-white landscape recalls FARGO (Raimi and the Coen brothers are longtime friends and sometime collaborators), but Raimi abandons the ironic prankster mannerisms that make the EVIL DEAD pictures such a gas. Smith's bloody backwoods morality tale is played for pure tragedy, each character undone by his or her own inherent flaws. The result is a chilly blast from the cold, cold heart of darkness.