"Good Folks, Bad Deeds"
What You Need To Know:
CUT BANK has some entertaining characters and good performances. Veteran actors John Malkovich, Bruce Dern and Billy Bob Thornton stand out, as does Teresa Palmer as the girlfriend. However, Liam Hemsworth is too subdued as the protagonist. Ultimately, Michael Stuhlbarg steals the show with his performance as a crazy loner who wants to get his mail “parcel” even if he has to kill for it. CUT BANK is likely to be easily forgotten and contains some foul language, intense violence and morally questionable behavior. So, extreme caution is advised.
(RoRoRo, B, LL, VV, N, AA, D, MM) Very strong Romantic worldview with some good people gone wrong, mixed with some moral elements; 21 obscenities (mostly “f” and “s” words); some strong intense violence, with several scenes depicting a character murdering other characters in various ways until being shot and killed himself; no sexual content whatsoever, besides kissing and hugging between a couple; upper male nudity in two scenes showing a shirtless corpse; brief alcohol use, with a few scenes showing background characters consuming alcohol at a bar; brief smoking, with a scene depicting a main character smoking, and other scenes depicting background characters smoking at a bar, with some drunkenness in one scene; and, strong miscellaneous immorality, with the entire narrative centered on a lie that the main character fabricated, dishonesty, greed, and murderous character seeks revenge for his lost mysterious mail package.
CUT BANK is a film noir about a young man eager to leave the desolate small town of Cut Bank, Montana, for a new life in California with his aspiring-actress girlfriend, and how the desperate, dishonest scheme he devises to make money for their new life goes terribly and comically wrong. CUT BANK has a morally ambiguous Romantic worldview with foul language, murder and other misdeeds.
CUT BANK tells the story of Dwayne McLaren (Liam Hemsworth), a young auto mechanic and former high school football star with a severely ill father who desires desperately to leave his small hometown of Cut Bank, Montana, but doesn’t have the financial means to do so. In his desperate attempt to leave with his girlfriend (Teresa Palmer), Dwayne sets in motion a series of events that will forever change his life and the life of Cut Bank.
To say much more about the movie’s plot would require major “spoiler alerts” and ruin a good deal of the entertainment to be had on an aesthetic, but not moral, level. Among the movie’s juicy characters are a sheriff (John Malkovich), who vomits comically and rather discreetly whenever he stumbles across a dead body, the girlfriend’s sardonic father (Billy Bob Thornton), a loopy old mailman at the center of the moneymaking scheme (Bruce Dern), and a crazy loner, Derby Milton (Michael Stuhlbarg), who wants to get his “parcel” even if he has to kill for it.
All this is reminiscent of the Coen Brothers classic FARGO, even though CUT BANK never quite reaches the intensity level of that movie. In the lead role, Liam Hemsworth doesn’t convey much emotion, trying to keep cool as one thing after another goes wrong, but a more emotionally driven performance might be more enjoyable. Palmer is terrific, particularly in ridiculously comic scenes where she’s practicing to win the Miss Cut Bank pageant. Also, Malkovich and Thornton do nice jobs with their relatively low-key yet significant roles. However, Stuhlbarg steals the show with his unpredictable turn as a simpleminded and seemingly quiet man who hides a fast-acting rage whenever he’s denied what he wants.
Ultimately, it’s disappointing (SPOILER ALERT) that the movie never reveals what’s in the parcel Milton is willing to kill for (END SPOILER). It’s not as clever or original as Writer Robert Patino and Director Matt Shakman, both TV veterans making their feature-movie debuts, might have hoped. While CUT BANK is entertaining enough for adults who like dark comedy and mysteries, it’s no classic and is likely to be easily forgotten. Extreme caution is advised for some foul language, intense violence and morally questionable behavior.