The Ron’s review published on Letterboxd:
A Simple Plan, based on the novel of the same name by Scott Smith is director Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead trilogy) trying his hand at a bit of film noir. The film landed Billy Bob Thornton an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor and Scott Smith a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Some people consider it Raimi's best film. I thought it was a good modern noir, but I wasn't as impressed as the critics seemed to be with it.
Two brothers Hank & Jacob (Bill Paxton & Billy Bob Thornton) along with their friend Lou (Brent Briscoe) discover a downed plane in the woods while looking for Jacob's dog. Hank goes inside the plane, finding a dead pilot and a bag full of millions of dollars. The three hatch a plot to split the money, but by overthinking their every move their simple plan turns into a tragedy of errors.
One of my main issues with this film was Bill Paxton. I wouldn't go as far to say I dislike him as an actor, but I think he's just average at best. He's completely overshadowed in this film by his co-star Billy Bob Thornton, who is excellent as his dimwitted brother Jacob. Paxton is one of those actors who almost always comes across as themselves in my opinion. You substitute this Bill Paxton with the one in Twister and it's same guy with different lines. A co-star outshining the lead doesn't normally bother me all that much but it did here. As for the other main players Lou and Hank's wife Sarah (Bridget Fonda), I saw them as just plot devices to give the story it's necessary complications.
The story itself works well as a modern neo-noir, but I personally prefer noir that features bad luck over noir that features bumbling idiots. All these people had to do is sit on the money for awhile and not do anything stupid. Instead they do the exact opposite. Every decision they make after their initial plan makes little to no sense. Even Hank who is supposed to be the family man and the smart one makes completely idiotic choices. I get that's the point, but it was just a little too much on the dumb side for my liking. It's still a good film, it's just not to my personal tastes when it comes to noir.
It was interesting to see a Sam Raimi film in this genre. I've only ever seen his horror films and his Spider-Man trilogy. His direction is very good it's just like I said, it wasn't my type of noir story. I think I would have enjoyed it more had it been funny, but I only laughed once when a certain character went flying through the air thanks to a shotgun blast. I think their was a missed opportunity at humor with Thornton and Briscoe's characters. It came across as more tragic than anything else.
Ron's recommendation: See it. I'm just one guy. The majority of people seem to really like it, so unless you really trust my opinion listen to them instead and give it a shot.