Three blue-collar men stumble onto four million dollars in
lost cash and are consumed with mistrust, jealousy, and greed.
A Simple Plan (1998)
Directed by Sam Raimi
Written by Scott B. Smith
Starring Bill Paxton, Bridget Fonda, Billy Bob Thornton,
Brent Briscoe, Chelcie Ross, Gary Cole, Becky Ann Baker
Based on the novel by Scott B. Smith
Oscar Nominations - Best Supporting Actor (Billy Bob Thornton), Best Adapted Screenplay
I love films that involve finding a surprise cash cache. They're the best at showcasing what it means to truly sell your soul. A Simple Plan is essentially a hybrid of Fargo and Shallow Grave, which makes for an intense character study of three blue-collar men who face a life-changing decision. Money, money, money. What would you do? Would you tell your wife? Would you betray your friends? Would you kill your family? We've all wondered what we would do if we found a bag of money in the woods. If this film is anything to go by, the best thing you can do is walk away and forget you ever saw it.
One day, Hank (Paxton), his brother Jacob (Thornton), and Jacob's asshole friend Lou (Briscoe) stumble onto a crashed plane on a nature preserve. Inside the plane is $4 million in cash. Hank, being a pragmatist and a rule-follower, only agrees to take the money if they are certain nobody is looking for it. Of course, Lou gets greedy and wants the money now, and Hank's pragmatism only goes so far. He starts killing people who get too close, and soon things spiral out of control for good. It's a killer script that's very well-acted, particularly Billy Bob Thornton as Jacob. There's an arc of shattered innocence about him that really works.
A Simple Plan is anything but. It's one of Sam Raimi's two hidden gems (the other being The Gift) that got massively overshadowed by his next film, 2002's Spider-Man. But it's worth revisiting, if only for the characters. It's rare to see good people morph into stone-cold killers over the course of two hours, but this film pulls it off.