- Directors: Clint Eastwood
- Producers: Mark Johnson, David Valdes
- Writers: John Lee Hancock
- Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller
- Actors: Kevin Costner, Clint Eastwood, Laura Dern
The film is set in Texas in the fall of 1963. Robert “Butch” Haynes (Kevin Costner) and Terry Pugh (Keith Szarabajka) are convicts who have just escaped from a Huntsville prison. Fleeing from the clutches of the law, the pair stumble into the kitchen of a house where eight-year old Phillip Perry (T. J. Lowther) lives with his devout Jehovah’s Witness mother and two sisters. Needing a hostage to aid their escape, Butch grabs the boy, who meekly accompanies them. The trio’s journey starts off on an unpleasant note as Butch is forced to shoot his fellow escapee with a stolen revolver, following the latter’s attempts at molesting the child. With his partner out of the way, the convict and his young victim take to the Texas highway in a bid to flee from the pursuing police.
Meanwhile, Texas Ranger Red Garnett (Clint Eastwood), riding in the Governor’s sleek airstream trailer, is in hot pursuit of the duo. With criminologist Sally Gerber (Laura Dern) and trigger-happy FBI sharpshooter Bobby Lee (Bradley Whitford) in tow, Ranger Garnett is determined to recover the criminal and the hostage before they cross the Texas border. The plot thus alternates between a manhunt unfolding on one level, and on the other, the blossoming of a tender bond between the convict and his “prisoner.”
The fact that Garnett is a disappointed man at the end (despite the fact that his mission of recovering the hostage has been a success) is indicative of the fact that he perhaps knew, from previous encounters with Butch Haynes, that he was essentially a good man at heart, driven by circumstances to become the cold-blooded killer he was perceived as.