“One False Move” is now available in stunning 4K from The Criterion Collection.

When diving into movies that are first time watches from the Criterion collection there is always an unknown factor, but it comes with a safety net of knowing the movie should at least be pretty darn good at bare minimum. After all, it is in the Criterion Collection for one reason or another, and its certainly not to be doubted as at least being championed as a marvel. Thankfully, Carl Franklin’s One False Move proves exactly why it belongs in the Criterion Collection, and, aside from being a spectacular film, this new 4K transfer also looks immaculate.

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Center: Bill Paxton as Dale Hurricane Dixon in ONE FALSE MOVE. Photo courtesy of The Criterion Collection.

When One False Move first starts, it’s almost an entirely different movie — the audiences think they’re going to get involved in this high adrenaline-fueled drug dealer vs cops shoot ‘em up thriller. However, there is something that feels different about this. The direction that Franklin implements in these opening moments feels familiar but different and is a tip of the hat to the audience members who are catching on that this is not going to be your straight cops and robbers movie, this is going to be different, this is going to sit and linger and burn a hole in your soul and make you think about what you’re watching. The film focuses on a trio of gang members: Fantasia (Cynda Williams), Pluto (Michael Beach), and Ray Malcolm (Billy Bob Thornton). They just took out some people, violently, at an LA party, stole their stash, and decide to go to Houston to get rid of the goods. The two detectives on the case are Dud Cole (Jim Meltzer) and John McFeely (Earl Billings). They get a lead as to where the gang is going from a VHS party tape and the only clue they have leads them to a detective familiar with Ray due to his past, Dale “Hurricane” Dixon (Bill Paxton). The clock is ticking between the two sides of the law, and time is going to inevitably run out.

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L-R: Billy Bob Thornton as Ray Malcolm and Michael Beach as Pluto in ONE FALSE MOVE. Photo courtesy of The Criterion Collection.

What makes One False Move so powerful and innovative is the direction by Carl Franklin (Devil in a Blue Dress) and the story telling by Tom Epperson (A Family Thing) and Billy Bob Thornton (A Family Thing). Nothing about the movie is black and white, and highlighting both sides of this story in an equal light is something that just isn’t done. The fine dance between right and wrong, moral and immoral, is just done so effortlessly and perfect it captures the audience entirely differently. However, a movie can be as interestingly told and shot as it wants, but if it doesn’t have a cast to support it, the movie simply will fall apart. Thankfully, the main four members of the cast are exceptional and bring everything to their roles. Bill Paxton (Twister), who has the duality of being the comic relief while also being the cop who needs this win, is sublime, while Cynda Williams (Mo’ Better Blues), Michael Beach (If Beale Street Could Talk), and Billy Bob Thornton will simply make your skin crawl at moments, drawing you into their world and exposing the nitty gritty underbelly of it all.

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L-R: Cynda Williams as Fantasia and Billy Bob Thornton as Ray Malcolm in ONE FALSE MOVE. Photo courtesy of The Criterion Collection.

Now, when it comes down to this new restoration, it is simply magnificent. This 4K transfer and first-time on Criterion is something that any collectors of Franklin’s work, Criterion 4Ks, or just Criterion in general, will need to add to their collection. It’s a masterpiece of filmmaking, storytelling, and acting, with a stunning transfer. This digital restoration was approved by Carl Franklin himself, with 2.0 surround and DTS-HD master audio for the soundtrack. The 4K also boasts HDR and the Blu-ray has the special features. Now this is where the slight disappointment kicks in. It seems Criterion has gone the way of some of the newer studio releases but haven’t committed the ultimate cardinal sin of having no features (Yet. Hopefully they never do.). There are two lone features on this Criterion. One is the previously released 1999 audio commentary with Carl Franklin and the other is a new conversation between Carl Franklin and star/co-writer Billy Bob Thornton. That is certainly lighter than Criterion fans are used to, but, at the end of the day, one would hope people are purchasing the title for the movie itself and the spectacular transfer. However, if you are buying the movie for the packaging, the included booklet is more of a pamphlet with a singular essay that folds out with some art instead of the typical heavier booklets that grace the inside packing. Regardless though, Criterion spine 1187, Carl Franklin’s One False Move, is a powerhouse of filmmaking, boasting an unquestionably beautiful transfer that lacks on the extras front.

One False Move Special Features:

  • New 4K digital restoration, approved by director Carl Franklin, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
  • One 4K UHD disc of the film presented in Dolby Vision HDR and one Blu-ray with the film and special features
  • Audio commentary from 1999 featuring Franklin
  • New conversation between Franklin and cowriter-actor Billy Bob Thornton
  • Trailer
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • PLUS: An essay by author William Boyle
  • New cover by Vlad Rodriguez

Available on 4K UHD and Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection on July 25th, 2023.

For more information, head to the official The Criterion Collection One False Move webpage.

This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie being covered here wouldn’t exist.

One False Move cover art

Categories: Home Release, Home Video, Recommendation, Reviews

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