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A Perfect World (1993)

A hardened prison escapee and a Texas Ranger play a game of cat and mouse.

Directed by:

Clint EastwoodClint Eastwood

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 132 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: United States

Kevin Costner stars as Robert ‘Butch’ Haynes, a violent convicted criminal who escapes from a Texas prison in 1963 in the company of fellow convict Terry Pugh (Keith Szarabajka). On the run from the authorities, the two take a hostage – an eight-year-old boy called Phillip ‘Buzz’ Perry (TJ Lowther). When Terry threatens the boy, Butch kills him and continues his flight with Buzz. As they travel together, the two form a common bond, as Buzz sees in Butch a replacement for his father who abandoned him as a child. Buzz even finds himself helping Butch in evading the authorities.

In pursuit of the pair are grizzled Texas Ranger Chief Red Garnett (Clint Eastwood) and criminal psychological profiler Sally Gerber (Laura Dern). Garnett knows Butch well, as they have had run-ins before, and is doubtful of the use a profiler will be to him in the investigation. As the hunt continues, Butch opens up to Buzz and tells him about his life, and his wish to find his own father in Alaska where he dreams of living in peace. However, Butch is an escaped criminal and his dreams are unlikely to come true. When the authorities finally catch up with them, only Garnett and Gerber really understand the fugitive pair and may not be able to prevent a tragedy.

‘A Perfect World’ is often overlooked, which is a shame as it is a fine piece of work. Clint Eastwood’s direction is pretty much spot on throughout, and the film wants only the injection of a little pace in the middle to make it near perfect. The acting by both Eastwood and Kevin Costner makes this easily one of the better films in both their careers, which is interesting since they are so much better known for other – sometimes lesser – films. Young newcomer TJ Lowther also turns in a stellar performance, convincing and touching. The story itself has been done in various ways before, but this really is the best treatment of it so far.

It's Got: Performances that mark a career high-point for both Costner and Eastwood.

It Needs: A bit more pace at times.

DVD Extras Just a trailer with this budget single-disc release. DVD Extras Rating: 1/10

Alternatives:

Martin's Day, The Enforcer, The War.

Summary

Outstanding but oft-overlooked character drama that deserves to reach a much wider audience. Well worth watching.

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5 Comments

  1. Steve Gingo
    Posted October 4, 2009 at 3:27 am | Permalink

    A Perfect World moves the black and white role of good versus evil into a gray area with Costner as Butch Haines, taking the fatherless hostage boy Phillip under his wing after escaping from prison. All the good that Butch can muster is portrayed amongst his not so lawful activities. As Butch says to the boy (Phillip), “I ain’t killed but two people in my life–one hurt my mama, and the other hurt you.” Eastwood, the Texas Ranger chief, wants Butch Haines taken alive as the manhunt progresses through Texas, and it is hinted that he dealt with Butch when Haines was a youth and Red (Clint Eastwood) realizes that Butch was not as bad a figure as most believe. Richly filmed, with many vignettes showing the progression of the escaped Butch and his genuine interest in the life of his young hostage, Costner is believable as the outlaw, and a tragic figure most filmgoers will empathize with in the end. If you haven’t seen this Eastwood gem, rent it, for it is a fine film. Phillip, played by TJ Lowther, deserves much credit for his portrayal as the eight year old hostage Butch calls “Buzz”, making the film as tragic as “No Country for Old Men” in its own way.

  2. paul street
    Posted July 12, 2010 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    personally i would think and agree that this movie was very overated both the boy and costner were brilliant

  3. TEDROW SMITH
    Posted September 13, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Good show, I just wish they could do 2 cents worth of research when reflecting the beliefs of a religious group. 100% inaccurate in this show.

  4. Vanessa Spanbauer
    Posted November 12, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Well this movie was suppose to be the 60’s and in Texas. Therefore the religion is not going to be correct at all. Also those are the stereotypes of a Jeh. Witness, and Clint Eastwood always brings stereotypes into his films; something he is known for doing. So get your facts straight before you become this religious activist.

  5. Alex
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    half the length might have meant twice the quality…costner’s character has some complexity, but eastwood’s is a cutout much beneath his abilities…and DULL…could have been edited with a cleaver and still improved…MISfire!

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