One False Move – Criterion UHD Review

4 Stars A '90s Cinephile Favorite Arrives in UHD.
One False Move Review

One False Move, Carl Franklin’s gritty 1992 feature directorial debut receives a UHD release from The Criterion Collection.

 

One False Move (1992)
Released: 08 May 1992
Rated: R
Runtime: 105 min
Director: Carl Franklin
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Cast: Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, Cynda Williams
Writer(s): Billy Bob Thornton, Tom Epperson
Plot: A small town police chief awaits the arrival of a gang of killers.
IMDB rating: 7.1
MetaScore: 87

Disc Information
Studio: Criterion
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 2.0 DD, English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: R
Run Time: 1 Hr. 45 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray
Case Type: Snap Case
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 07/25/2023
MSRP: $49.95

The Production: 4/5

One False Move Screenshot

After committing a string of brutal crimes, would-be drug dealers Ray (Billy Bob Thornton) and Pluto (Michael Beach) go on the run with Ray’s girlfriend Fantasia (Cynda Williams), hoping to unload their recently acquired drug cache, before hiding out in Ray and Fantasia’s home town of Star City, Arkansas. Behind them are LAPD detectives Dud Cole (Jim Metzler) and John McFeely (Earl Billings). Ahead of them is Star City Sheriff, Dale “Hurricane” Dixon (Bill Paxton).

What starts off as a surprisingly violent crime movie, quickly turns into a drama driven, cat and mouse thriller. As the trio crosses the country, with law enforcement drawing closer from both sides, pieces of the story gradually come together, until they converge in rural Arkansas.

When One False Move was first released, much was made of the level of violence in those opening scenes, with reports of people walking out of an early screening. I do recall on first viewing 30 years ago, my jaw dropping at scenes that could make the most enthusiastic Tarantino fan cringe. Director Carl Franklin has stated that he insisted on including those scenes in order for the audience to know exactly what was heading toward Hurricane, the unprepared small town sheriff. He made the correct decision.

In spite of the opening ten minutes or so, One False Move is primarily a dialog motivated drama. Peeling away at many dynamics of life. In the end, it is an excellent piece of reality inspired fiction, co-written by Billy Bob Thornton and childhood friend Tom Epperson.

One False Move has had an interesting history. It was originally intended for the direct-to-video market, but the instant critical buzz resulted in a very limited theatrical run. Since then, it has remained little known, but a constant favorite of film lovers everywhere. So, it is a welcome surprise to see it given a well deserved UHD treatment from The Criterion Collection, and the image quality presented here is far above anything I’d ever hoped for.

Video: 4/5

3D Rating: NA

One False Move is a very low budget movie, shot on 35mm film. I doubt the total budget was more than several hundred thousand dollars, which makes the overall image quality of the UHD disc rather surprising. Low light scenes, such as the opening sequence, contain a healthy amount of vibrant grain, which has an almost iridescent quality in 4K with Dolby Vision. The daylight scenes, which make up the majority of the film, are crystal clear. In fact, considering the budget constraints, I’m surprised how impeccably it was filmed. I didn’t notice a single instance of focus slipping or being missed. The tonal range and consistency was much better than a film produced under these limitations has any business being.

Audio: 3/5

Two audio tracks are included, 2-channel surround in both DTS HD and Dolby. This is not an audio intensive movie, having mostly dialog with a little ambiance and occasional background music. So the soundtrack really isn’t very important, as long as it is balanced and dialog is easily intelligible, which it is. My only minor quibble is that the background music, when it is there, tends to be rather distant and echoey. It really is no problem, though.

Special Features: 2/5

One False Move Screenshot

Conversation with Carl Franklin & Billy Bob Thornton (27:27) – Director Carl Franklin discusses the making of One False Move with co-star/co-writer Billy Bob Thornton.

Overall: 4/5

One False Move is an excellent example of the type of film that can be made without an abundance of funding, but with an abundance of talent.  From the writing, to the directing, to the cinematography, to the acting, by a mostly (at the time) little-known cast, it manages to hit so many perfect notes.  While its limited budget is apparent, it is not an impediment to the power and complexity of the story.

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Robin9

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Thank you for this review. I don't know the film and I would probably also have been appalled at masses of violence in the early scenes. However, the story as you've described it sounds interesting. I don't like paying Criterion's prices so I'll think about this before buying.
 

Jeffrey D

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I’ll likely blind buy this- I loved Billy Bob’s screenplay for Sling Blade, so my guess is I’ll like this one.
 

titch

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Carl Franklin made three terrific films, right after the other, in the 1990's. After One False Move and Devil In A Blue Dress, he completely changed direction, as well as milieu, and made One True Thing, with Meryl Steep! I only discovered it, after I watched Criterion's Devil In A Blue Dress last year and wanted to have a look at his career, after One False Move - which I have on LaserDisc.
 
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JohnRice

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Carl Franklin made three terrific films, right after the other, in the 1990's. After One False Move and Devil In A Blue Dress, he completely changed direction, as well as milieu, and made One True Thing, with Meryl Steep! I only discovered it, after I watched Criterion's Devil In A Blue Dress last year and wanted to have a look at his career, after One False Move - which I have on LaserDisc.
It’s always amused me that One False Move and One True Thing have sat next to each other on the shelf for decades. You wouldn’t ever expect them to be movies by the same director.
 

titch

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It’s always amused me that One False Move and One True Thing have sat next to each other on the shelf for decades. You wouldn’t ever expect them to be movies by the same director.
He certainly demonstrated real versatility and talent. A pity that his career sort of just fizzled away, after such a promising start. A couple of movies with poor scripts and then it was over.
 

The Drifter

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I completely missed that OfM was recently released by Criterion. I will need to check this out.

I first saw OfM back in the 200X's, on the old DVD. Excellent thriller/neo-noir with a compelling story-line. The cast was amazing - including of course the late Bill Paxton & BBT. This is one of those films that may have "fallen through the cracks" when it came out theatrically in 1992, but seems like it got more of a following once it hit home video.
 
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Bartman

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While Billy Bob's hair is a distraction, everything else about this movie is perfect. If you want to try before you buy the Vudu stream looks good but has no subtitles, I'm unsure about other providers but assume the're the same, enjoy!
 

Wayne Klein

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As I recall the budget was around $2 million for the film. Still low budget but not as low as stated in the review.
 
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