A Simple Plan (1998) – Review (Film)


It wasn’t until 10 minutes into this film that I realised something was wrong. Couldn’t put my finger on it at first. Then I realised… the Coen Brothers film I wanted to see was called Blood Simple, not A Simple Plan. 😮

So I was watching the wrong film and yet the opening was good enough to keep my interest.

Two brothers, Hank (Bill Paxton) and Jacob (Billy Bob Thornton – who is brilliant in this role), along with Jocob’s friend Lou (Brent Briscoe) stumble across the wreckage of a plane buried in the snow in their local woods.

Upon investigating they discover the pilot is dead and the cargo is a holdall containing millions of dollars.

Hank wants to call the authorities but Lou and Jacob think they should keep the money. They feel no-one is looking for the money and it can only be from something as dodgy as a drug deal or robbery as no-one has seen anything about it in the media and the plane has been here a while.

They agree to hold onto the money until Spring and when the snow clears if no-one comes looking for the money the three of them will split the money and leave town, going their seperate ways.

What follows is a complex and taut thriller as the character’s plan unravels a piece at a time, with Hank desperately clinging to the thread that is, just about, keeping everything together.

There are betrayals and shocks as the body count grows and the lies they tell to try and cover their tracks become increasing strained.

The relationship between the two brothers – Hank who graduated college and has a wife and a baby & Jacob, who is a bit of a loner, not very intelligent but good hearted – is well formed and believable and Billy Bob Thornton gives a great performance as Jacob.

Bridget Fonda stars as Hank’s wife Sarah who ends up becoming one of the more calculating and manipulating forces at play in the whole thing.

Her idea of sneaking some of the money back on the plane to fool anyone that finds it into thinking it’s undisturbed is genius when you think about it but ultimately it’s what occurs while Hank and Jacob are doing this that starts the whole sequence of events and kicks off the main part of the film.

There are plenty of moments where I was thinking ‘don’t do it, quit now it’s not worth it,’ but the fact of the matter is none of us know how we’d react in that situation.

The film’s tagline ‘Sometimes good people do evil things’ completely sums the film up.

All of the main protaganists are, in the grand scheme of things, good people – but $4m is a lot of money and the lengths they are willing to go to are, while not normal, certainly believable. Mainly because once they make the initial decision they end up being railroaded into making tough choices and some of the incidents the plot hinges on are born more out of panic than anything that’s been planned.

Director Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, The Grudge) and writer Scott B. Smith deliver just under two hours of good old fashioned twists and turns and for me the ending is a real highlight. It’s nice to see a film that doesn’t pull punches and isn’t reaching for a “Hollywood ending.”

Although I watched this in error, it certainly wasn’t a mistake and I’d recommend it to anyone that likes films with a bit of thought involved and that enjoy some suspense.

Rating: 8/10