The Hot Spot is about all kinds of heat: the Texas temperature, the steamy sex, and how high the emotional mercury can rise when you’re a tough guy in a new town, caught between trouble and the trigger. It’s also supposed to be atmospheric, noirish, and touched with nihilism. But the director, Hollywood bad boy Dennis Hopper, lays it all on so thick that the film verges on self-parody. Crime novels of the ’50s — especially Charles Williams’ 1952 Hell Hath No Fury, on which The Hot Spot is based — just don’t take to this kind of extremist revision. Besides, all the folks here, particularly Madsen and Jennifer Connelly, are too simple and too gorgeous for their element. The other miscalculation: starring Don Johnson, a consummately cool actor who couldn’t make anything on-screen burn if he used a butane lighter.

The Hot Spot
  • Movie
  • 130 minutes