Arkansas (2020) – Review

Living under the strict orders of an Arkansas drug kingpin named Frog (Vince Vaughn), both Kyle (Liam Hemsworth) and Swin (Clark Duke), form an unlikely bond before getting involved in a deal that goes dreadfully wrong. The duo must then do their best to keep the situation under control, but unfortunately the chaos begins to snowball, leading to more deadly consequences. A surprisingly exciting thriller that has just started streaming on Netflix.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Director: Clark Duke
Writers: Clark Duke, Andrew Boonkrong
Starring: Clark Duke, Liam Hemsworth, Vince Vaughn, John Malkovich, Eden Brolin

Having seemingly come out of nowhere, Arkansas definitely finds itself standing out amongst some of the more recent releases brought to Netflix, especially considering the fact that this was Clark Duke’s directorial debut. Interestingly, the actor turned director, also found himself starring in the film too, something worth noting.

The story was certainly intriguing, albeit at times a tiny bit predictable, but the filmmaker managed to include just enough twists and turns to prevent things from becoming stale at any given point. Combine this with the quirky and unique characters on display and you have yourself a thoroughly enjoyable flick that managed to maintain a good balance between humour and seriousness when it came to the chosen subject at hand – drug running.

In terms of the cinematography and camera work, both were done impressively and the movie on the whole had an extremely strong American country feel to it – which didn’t hurt it at all. Much of the soundtrack on display also backed up that notion too – with a large majority of it consisting of pretty obscure and unknown country records.

In terms of the cast, this also seemed to stand out as being one of the primary strengths here. As mentioned, Clark Duke starred as the co-lead, alongside Liam Hemsworth, who adopted the role of Kyle. Both were extremely likeable and had more than enough chemistry for you to become invested in their personal journeys. Elsewhere, Vince Vaughn, John Malkovich, Michael Kenneth Williams and Eden Brolin also appeared as Frog, Bright, Almond and Johnna – all of which managed to provide their own unique take on the characters given to them.

With that being said, with all of the positives propelled its way, there were one or two negatives. I firmly believe the pacing of the movie was a little off at times, especially in the early and later stages of the film. Quite simply, it seemed to suffer from having to cram too much story and too much detail into the one-hundred and seventeen-minute runtime given. Arkansas could have perhaps benefited from another ten or twenty minutes in runtime, or a slightly less convoluted story in general.

On the whole, if you’re open to a pretty unique and interesting film that flows in a chapter format, then Arkansas is most definitely worthy of a watch. Some have started comparing this one to a Quentin Tarantino movie and I can understand that – I’d also be tempted to compare it with Polar (2019), which had a similarly outlandish story, combined with eccentric and charismatic characters thrown in too. Overall, one of the surprise packages of 2020.

“They are stupid. That’s what makes them dangerous.”

Frog – Arkansas

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