Love & a .45

1994, R, 101 min. Directed by C.M. Talkington. Starring Gil Bellows, Renée Zellweger, Rory Cochrane, Jeffrey Combs, Peter Fonda, Wiley Wiggins, Jack Nance, Jace Alexander.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Nov. 25, 1994

I can't help but think that if Talkington's feature had come out a mere six months earlier, it might have delivered more of the gut-level visceral punch for which it obviously tries so hard. To be fair, this isn't the director's fault; it's just that the film comes in the midst of a spate of similarly themed films (Natural Born Killers and Kalifornia spring readily to mind) and tends to get lost in their backsplatter. That's a shame, because despite the rampant and occasionally annoying amount of genre homages that crop up a bit too frequently, Love & a .45 is a solid, interesting feature debut. Gil Bellows is Watty Watts, a white-trash, lower-echelon felon, who, along with his girlfriend Starlene Cheatham (Zellweger, of Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and, not coincidentally, this month's Interview magazine), finds himself embroiled in a cross-Texas chase trying to avoid speed-freak, prison-pal Billy Mack (Cochrane), a pair of greasy hit men-cum-drug dealers (Combs, of Re-Animator fame, and Alexander), and, naturally, the long arm of the law. Talkington freely draws on previous outlaw-lovers-on-the-road movies, among them The Sugarland Express and, to a lesser degree, Thelma and Louise, and the film also includes a quasi-torture scene involving a tattoo gun that resonates a bit too strongly of Reservoir Dogs. Really, there's not a whole lot here we haven't seen before. Wisely, Talkington keeps the film moving at roughly the speed of Speed, bathing the shots with eerie gels and utilizing various skewed camera angles to keep things interesting. Bellows, Zellweger, and Cochrane are all excellent in their roles (particularly Bellows), though Zellweger's character -- all squeals and caged sexuality -- seems a bit too close to Juliette Lewis' Mallory Knox (of Natural Born Killers) to be as fresh as it should be. (And, since Love & a .45 wrapped long before Stone's film was released, it seems that's just a case of lousy timing.) Gory, spastic fun, Love & a .45 is a broken roller-coaster ride of Texas trouble. It's not anything you haven't seen before, but it might remind you why you liked those other movies in the first place.

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Love & a .45, C.M. Talkington, Gil Bellows, Renée Zellweger, Rory Cochrane, Jeffrey Combs, Peter Fonda, Wiley Wiggins, Jack Nance, Jace Alexander

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