The place is Red Rock, a little town located in the middle of nowhere Wyoming. When a man from Texas (played by Nicolas Cage) wanders into his bar, the owner, Wayne (J.T. Walsh), assumes that the man is Lyle From Dallas, the semi-legendary hit man who Wayne has hired to kill his wife, Suzanne (Lara Flynn Boyle). Wayne gives the man half of his payment in advance and promises the other half after Suzanne is dead. What Wayne doesn’t realize is that Lyle From Dallas is not actually Lyle From Dallas. Instead, he is a drifter named Michael who has just recently lost his job. Michael takes Wayne’s money but, when he sees Suzanne, he tells her that Wayne wants her dead. Suzanne responds by offering to pay Michael to kill Wayne. Michael mostly just wants to leave town but his every effort is thwarted, with him continually only managing to get a mile or two out of town just to then find circumstances forcing him to once again pass the Red Rock welcome sign. Meanwhile, the real Lyle From Dallas (Dennis Hopper) has shown up and he is pissed.
Red Rock West is a clever and energetic neo noir that plays out like the child of a marriage between the Coen Brothers and David Lynch. Like the Coens’ Blood Simple, Red Rock West is a violent movie that is full of twist and turns and features characters who are often confused and rarely understand what is actually going on. From David Lynch, it borrows both Twin Peaks‘s Lara Flynn Boyle and Blue Velvet‘s Dennis Hopper. Red Rock West was made when Nicolas Cage still gave a damn and it also shows why, during his short career, J.T. Walsh was everyone’s favorite duplicitous character actor. Hopper is his usual crazy self and Boyle is a sultry and sexy fatale. Red Rock West is one of the best neo noirs of the 1990s.