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Kansas

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Directed by Australian David Stevens and shot on location in the rolling hills and farm country of Eastern Kansas in the summer of 1987; 'Kansas' is the story of Doyle Kennedy (Dillon), a violent, opportunistic bank robber, who hides behind a charming persona and Wade Corey (McCarthy), an innocent, middle class young man travelling to New York to be best man at his friends wedding.

Unfortunately, Wade gets stranded in the Midwest after his car and possessions blow up on the road. He then meets Doyle by chance while hitching a ride on a freight train across the Midwest. Doyle convinces Wade to sidetrack his journey to New York and join him at his hometown's parade to eat, drink and chase women.

While the parade is taking place, Doyle and Wade slip away from the crowds and under the premise that Doyle is looking up a married ex-girlfriend, they visit the local bank. Once inside the bank Doyle's nice guy facade disappears, as he quickly adorns a stocking over his head, takes out the sleepy security guard with a kosh and proceeds to rob the bank. Wade realising that he's been unwittingly set up as an accomplice to robbery, reluctantly goes through with the heist.

While making their escape, the unlikely duo are seperated, as Doyle is chased through the town's cemetary by the townsfolk, Wade quietly slips off, with all the cash from the robbery in two battered leather holdalls. He reaches a bridge on the edge of town, where an annoyed looking government agent waits by a broken down car with the local Governor's ill five year old daughter in the back seat, waiting for a pick up car. Wade decides to hide the loot and wait for them to move on, but as he's waiting, an onrushing police car crashes into the stationary vechicle, causing it to roll down the bank and into the river with the child still inside. Wade reacts immediately and dives into the water to save the little girl. He then quickly disappears in the melee following the rescue, but not before the disabled local press photographer takes a snap of him leaving the water crandling the rescued little girl in his arms.

The photograph ends up on the cover of national news magazine US Today. Meanwhile police inquiries quickly idenitfy Doyle as the chief suspect for the bank robbery, after bank teller noticed the black panther tattoo on his forearm. Doyle is well known to the local authorities due to his extensive criminal record gained growing up in the area and his trademark gold tooth. The bank teller & guard only saw one robber, so the police are unaware that two actually robbed the bank. The film then centres on the story of Doyle trying to track down his share from the elusive Wade and the local town hunting the two men; one as a villain, the other as a hero...

Verdict?

This really is Matt Dillon's film, he has rarely been better and gives a compelling performance as the enigmatic, psychotic Doyle, who's cock-sure arrogance dominates the camera. Andrew McCarthy's Wade, is a thrill-seeking, yet wimpy and unreliable character who falls in love with local rich girl.

Unfortunately, the film devotes too much time to the aforementioned romance and criminally neglects the narcissistic Doyle. Yet Kansas is still an enjoyable film, with some stunning shots of the rural Midwest and for the fact that it pits together two brat-pack heavyweights.

Notice any mistakes? Review

Strengths: Great performance from Dillon and superb cinematography.

Weaknesses? Some would argue weak and silly story. Not for the overly cynical film buff.

Our rating: 8.5 out of 10


Review Written by Stuart Fitzgerald:  Contact  |  More Reviews by Stuart Fitzgerald
Kansas