Age restriction: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
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Academy Award winners* Kevin Costner and Clint Eastwood confront each other from opposite sides of the law in A Perfect World, an acclaimed, multilayered manhunt saga (directed by Eastwood) that rumbles down Texas backroads toward a harrowing collision with fate. Costner plays Butch Haynes, a hardened prison escapee on the lam with a young hostage (T.J. Lowther in a remarkable film debut) who sees in Butch the father figure he never had. Eastwood is wily Texas Ranger Red Garnett, leading deputies and a criminologist (Laura Dern) on a statewide pursuit. Red knows every road and pothole in the Panhandle. What's more, he knows the elusive Haynes – because their paths have crossed before.
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This curiously overlooked drama from Clint Eastwood, released just after his Oscar triumph with Unforgiven, concerns a prisoner (Kevin Costner) on the lam with a kidnapped young boy as protection and the Texas Ranger (Eastwood) and federal agent (Laura Dern) on his tail. Eastwood manages a number of nice touches--the boy's innocence is nicely contrasted with Costner's soft-spoken desperado by the Casper Halloween costume he wears, and the law-enforcement officials look vaguely foolish, tooling around the countryside with a high-tech camper in tow. Eastwood gives a grizzled performance that, despite its seen-it-all surface, still feels fresh after all these years, and he coaxes surprisingly sensitive work out of Costner. But it's the sheer, modest scale of this piece that makes it so disarming--no planet lies in jeopardy, there are no cosmic make-or-break consequences here, just committed people doing their job and a well-meaning bad guy hoping things don't get too out of hand while he prevents them from doing it. --David Kronke