A road-tripping quartet deliver reasonably brainy dialogue/plot as they trek through lush views of Pyrenees towns and mountains toward the eventual execution of one - or perhaps all - of them. A Criterion resto (short on extras).
Act 1?s little more than a vehicle to load the vehicle (first a 1970ish Peugeot, then a 1970ish Mercedes) with its passengers. Ex-hoodlum Stamp?s been hiding in Spain since he ratted-out his Cockney gang/partners a decade ago. Savvy, experienced errand-boy Hurt and his brand-spankin?-new protégé Roth chauffeur the long-overdue cab ride home. Laura DelSol, a witness not left behind, being far too sexy to whack, saddles up in the remaining empty seat.
Act 2?s a slow-reveal of each quite subtly playing the others for position. Stamp?s rather blasé. An escape strategy - or peace already made with his eventual day of reckoning? Instead, it's Hurt and Roth?s sweating their pressed bets: They?re barely ahead of the cops, incompetent Roth?s clearly shaping up as excess baggage, and Hurt?s going to earn an end-of-the-line ticket-punch if he screws up. DelSol, at first blush merely cinematic eye-candy, starts working hard to end up ?the keeper? instead of simply road-kill.
The lush cinematographic admiration of Spanish villages, roadways and greenery notwithstanding, the film?s really a stage play with four folding chairs as set design, being all about the headgames between the four. Who?ll live, who not? With four paying passengers, each head squarely under the guillotine blade, there?s plenty of possible permutations.
The viewer?s invited to sympathize with any protagonist of choice. The best choice is Hurt, who?s slowly realizing that, in allowing this straightforward job to deteriorate into disaster, his own career-choice and life-expectancy are justly and quite rapidly closing in on him.
RECOMMENDATION: Reasonably smart and one-spin worthy.