Before long, Michael stumbles into a small town of Red Rock, Wyoming. While there, he is mistaken by the bartender for the hitman he’s hired to kill his wife. He pays Michael half of the price for the job. Michael takes the money, warns the wife, who promptly doubles the offer to kill her husband. He takes that money and begins to skip town.
But it’s not going to be that easy: events pull him back into the town. He tries to leave again, only to run into the real hitman, Lyle (played fantastically (and hilariously)) by Dennis Hopper. And back to Red Rock Michael goes. But still, nothing is as it seems. Michael is drawn deeper into the lives of a group of individuals whose motives aren’t completely clear to him – nothing is as it seems to be.
Michael’s honesty and integrity plays an integral role in the movie. It is the catalyst for him not getting the job on the oil rig. It prompts him to warn the wife and ultimately the local police that this husband and wife want to kill each other. At one point, Michael tells the wife he doesn’t sleep with married women because in Texas, marriage means something.
But somewhere along the way, the viewer is hit with the revelation that, at least in Red Rock, honestly may not necessarily be the best policy. It leads to all sorts of trouble for him. But out-and-out dishonestly aren’t helpful either. They themselves make stagnant situations bad and bad situations even worse.
Four years later, Oliver Stone made a very similar movie called U Turn, though it was nowhere near as good. There’s a dark grittiness to Red Rock West, like any good noir and this isn’t nearly matched in U Turn. A majority of the action of Red Rock West takes place at night and this adds to the eerie feeling of the film.
This is an underground classic and demands viewing.