“Who's created this problem? Someone is gonna get hurt, Bryce. It's just a question of who.”
There’s nothing really special about Mike Barker’s Best Laid Plans, but somehow it manages to remain slightly interesting during its short runtime. There’s something about 90’s neo-noir thrillers that manage to captivate me and although this film isn’t up to par with some of the better movies in the genre (the best example that comes to mind is the Wachowski’s Bound), I still appreciated it for its nostalgic value and some decent performances. Alessandro Nivola delivers a solid lead performance and I don’t think he’s ever been better than he was here. It’s a shame he didn’t get more opportunities to star in better films and has only gotten mostly supporting roles. Reese Witherspoon wasn’t that big of a star as she is now, but you could tell by her work here that she would get places. It would be nice to see her in more roles for thrillers like this one. The greatest flaw of the film is that it relies on one too many twists and once you get the feel of what the screenwriter was trying to do you can basically guess what the next twist is going to be. Ted Griffin’s script still managed to entertain although it’s not a story that will stick with you after you watch the film. It keeps you engaged throughout most of the first half of the film, but then it begins to unravel up to the climactic scene, that’s just way too silly even for the 90’s.
The film opens with a diner scene between two old college friends that are getting together for the first time in years. Bryce (Josh Brolin) is in town for a few days house sitting for a wealthy family, and so he has decided to phone Nick (Alessandro Nivola) to meet up with him. While the two are having a couple of drinks together a beautiful girl named Kathy (Resse Witherspoon) walks in. Nick receives a call from his girlfriend and says he’s got to go, but Bryce stays and ends up taking Kathy home with him. Later that night Nick receives a desperate call from Bryce asking him to come over to his house. He says Kathy has threatened to go to the police claiming he has raped her. He has absolutely no recollection of what happened, but after going through her purse he discovers she’s only 16. Bryce didn’t know what to do so he handcuffed Kathy in the basement and is hoping Nick can help him. He wants to talk to her alone so Bryce lets him and that is where we discover that everything was a setup and that Kathy’s name is actually Lissa and she’s Nick’s girlfriend. The film then shifts four months into the past where we are introduced to how Nick and Lissa met and the predicament they get into after making a deal with some small time local criminals (played by Terrence Howard) which gets them in even more trouble as the twists begin to pile along the way.
For all the twists and turns that Barker takes his audience through, the film ends up disappointing by trying to wrap things up a bit too nicely at the end. You get so used to the dark atmosphere and the betrayals that it becomes pretty evident what direction the movie is going to take at the end. I still enjoyed the ride although I wasn’t pleased with the destination, but the performances are engaging enough to still make the experience worth the while. There’s just something about the 90’s neo-thriller vibe that always seems to engage me. There’s not much more to add about this film, give it a try if you’re a fan of the cast or the genre, otherwise skip it because it’s pretty forgettable.