Crime is an odd thing in rural communities. Especially drug running. It’s gotta happen, but not in the way most people think it does like in the movies. It seems Clark Duke of The Office fame decided to make his directorial debut to try and rectify that problem.
Arkansas follows Liam Hemsworth and Clark Duke as a couple of bottom rung drug runners for a larger operation. They move up the ranks when they start working for a park ranger who uses his operation to sell played by John Malkovitch. Things get hairy when a deal goes bad and their boss is killed. Now the two bottom rungers must keep up business as usual while keeping an eye out for their boss Frog, played by Vince Vaughn.
The movie is awkward. It wants to feel like a No Country for Old Men, or Breaking Bad in tone, but feature wacky characters who would exist in those respective universes. It accomplishes that, but feels stilted in the process.
The movie does pick up when the perceptive shifts to give backstory on the creation of the business. That switch fleshes they world out, and when it cuts back the main characters they feel like they have been given more life. The two actors have a real bond that helps the story go. An addition to the cast, Eden Brolin, gives the boys real life.
The problem is that the movie is not to clear on the progression of time and gives it a very slow pace. It wants to have tension in every scene but does not meet that goal. It also has many characters that, though they are not throwaway, don’t really add anything to the story other the flesh out the world making it feel like a waste.
In the end, the film wants to be a “crime doesn’t pay” story. It is about that, and plays with the concept in interesting ways but other than the location does not stand out a whole bunch. The character end up being pretty good once it gets fully going, but they don’t really save how slow and aimless the whole production feels in the moment.
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