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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

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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