Mickey Rourke does better in the rodeo ring than in the arena of life in F.T.W., a mostly ho-hum cross between a modern cowboy yarn and a lovers-on-the-run crime saga. Quiet, even delicate mood set by Rourke’s performance is disrupted by cliched scripting and the leading characters’ predictably self-destructive downward spiral.
All Frank T. Wells (Rourke) wants after 10 years in prison is the usual cowboy dream – ridin’ free and havin’ a little place of his own. Scarlett Stuart (Lori Singer) is another story altogether, a wildcat involved in a highly abusive, frankly sexual relationship with her intimidating brother, Clem (Peter Berg). After Clem kills four people in a bank robbery, the cops mow him down. Scarlett escapes, only to meet Frank on the road.
Bunking in Frank’s trailer, Scarlett realizes that fate might be playing its hand here, in that Frank has the same initials that she has tattooed on her hand – F.T.W., as in what the world can go do with itself. The two inevitably hook up, and remainder of the film parallels his re-emergence as a bronco rider with her misguided attempts to give them financial security by robbing convenience stores and banks.
Rodeo footage is kept to a relative minimum, and Big Sky locations rep a major plus.