A long time collaborator with the Coen brothers, Raimi’s film is a pastiche of many of the elements that made films like FARGO so enjoyable. Incompetence, treachery, shotguns and snow can often make for a good movie, but hampered by yet another cardboard performance by Bill “I’m NOT Chet anymore!” Paxton the simple plan turns into a simple thriller/bloodbath flick.
The Coen’s, of course, make their language and dialogue foremost in even their bloodiest films. The script Raimi worked with (with a cast he inherited from the film’s first director, Robert Towne) lacks any of the quirky dialogue that would set this film apart. Essentially a remake of TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, this morality play could have learned much from the wonderful language of the Bogart film.
While Billy Bob Thornton steals the show (in a role quite similar to the one he brilliantly plays in Jarmusch’s DEAD MAN, though this time he’s got nasty brown glasses) the rest of the characters are quite two-dimensional. As each character that we meet systematically gets killed, you care less and less about any of these people surviving.
In the end, the plot is about a simple plan that became complicated. Ironically, the film itself, posing as a complicated film, could have under stronger direction and with better writing, could have been much more than its simple self.