As the title suggests, “A Simple Plan” is a thriller that shows how one simple lie can snowball into a complex series of tragedies. I don’t typically associate director Sam Raimi with this sort of film but his telling of the story is very successful. Be prepared for a total downer when you watch this one. We have all considered how effective our moral compass would be if we stumbled upon $4 million, but the film shows why we should be content with what we have instead of being selfish. This film is most notable for Billy Bob Thornton’s performance as the mentally unstable Jacob Mitchell. The role is reminiscent of his character in “Sling Blade” and it is no surprise that he received Oscar nominations for both of these roles. While the story is riveting and will keep you on edge, I feel that the film would have been more successful without Bill Paxton in the lead role. His performance is very average and didn’t capture the emotional conflict that drives Hank’s motivations. I did love Brent Briscoe as Lou, the drunken friend. He could easily be overlooked but he really helped to drive the plot. While it is completely depressing, the film arrives at a perfect conclusion. Any other ending would have been infuriating but the writers managed to tie up each loose end and teach each character an important moral lesson. Be emotionally prepared before you start “A Simple Plan” because this crime thriller is unrelenting.
[Pictured: Unquestionably Thornton's second-best performance ever]