"In icebound Wichita, Kansas, it's Christmas Eve, and this year Charlie Arglist just might havesomething to celebrate. Charlie, an attorney for the sleazy businesses of Wichita, and his unsavory associate, the steely Vic Cavanaugh have just successfully embezzled $2 million from Kansas City boss Bill Guerrard. But the real prize for Charlie is the stunning Renata, who runs the Sweet Cage strip club...." http://movies.yahoo.com
The film starts off with Charlie Arglist (John Cusack) standing by himself while the wind blows in Wichita, Kansas. He talks in voice-over about perfect crime, but how it doesnt work out in the end. Next, we see Charlie leaving a bank on a rainy Christmas Eve. Charlie gets into a car which has Vic (Billy Bob Thornton) waiting for him. Vic asks him how it went, and Charlie says that it went alright. Vic asks him how much he stole, and Charlie says that he took a little over two million dollars. They are both happy and then Vic drives Charlie home. He tells Charlie to just relax and be cool for a couple of hours, then they will leave town and escape to someplace warm. Charlie and Vic both grab the bag with the money in it (it has Vics name on it), and both awkwardly laugh. They debate on who should hold onto the money, and Vic is confident that he can protect it better than Charlie could. Vic drives off with the money.
Charlie then goes to a strip club, which is not so busy on this holiday, to relax and act normally. Sidney (Ned Bellamy), the bartender/owner of the club, is in a very heated conversation with his mother on the phone when Charlie walks in. We see a shotgun is behind the bar. Sidney tells Charlie how hes pissed off that one of his dancers was beat up again by her boyfriend. Thats when we see an older fellow grabbing the abused dancer, and a younger college-looking kid fights with the older guy because of this. Sidney breaks it up, and the kid winds up with the stripper. Charlie then sees Renata (Connie Nielsen), a stripper who hes in love with, approach the bar. She just got off of work, and she apparently struggling with financial problems. Charlie orders an expensive drink, and Renata asks him what the special occasion is. He tells her that his business plan that hes been working on has finally succeeded. She asks him if hes rich now, because if he is they could run away with each other. He tells her that its a thought. During this conversation, we find out that Renata really wants a certain photograph of a prosecutor with a prostitute. Charlie promises to get it for her, and she says that if he does shell have to give him something extra special.
Charlie goes to the bathroom, where he sees that someone has written Wichita falls, so falls Wichita falls on the wall. He ponders this, then washes his hands and opens the door to find a big man asking about him. Sidney looks at Charlie, who shakes his head, and Sidney then tells Roy Gelles (Mike Starr), the big man, that he hasnt seen Charlie today. Roy then asks about Vic, but he tells him the same thing. Roy then goes to the bathroom, where Charlie hides in a stall. Roy laughs at the Wichita falls writing and then leaves. Charlie leaves the club and calls Vic, whos eating dinner at a restaurant. Charlie says that maybe they should leave right now, but Vic tells him that its like a hockey rink outside. Thats when police sirens come up and Charlie hangs up the phone. He tries to stop, but the road is slippery and he spins around until he stops right in front of the police car. The officer just wanted to let him know that it is a bit slippery on the road tonight and that he should try to stay indoors. He then asks Charlie if he could give his name to his friends in high places for him. Charlie says he will, though he cant remember his name. The cop also recommends that Charlie should cut back on the alcohol tonight (he can see an open flask in the front seat). The cops leave, and Charlie goes to another strip club to think about the situation.
At the second strip joint, a stripper is arguing with her manager about working on the holidays. He tells her if she wants to work the hot nights, she has to work the cold ones. Charlie comes in and offers to pay for her nights work, much to her delight. He has a drink and then asks the bartender if Roy Gelles was looking for him earlier. He says no, but he was in earlier to look for Vic. Charlie gets nervous and then makes a phone call to Vic, who again reassures him that everythings fine and no one knows about the money. When Charlie hangs up, he sees Roy asking the bartender about him. Charlie then sneaks into the office where he snatches the picture of the prosecutor with a hooker for Renata. Charlie sneaks out the back and slips on the ice, breaking his cell phone into two. He decides to confer with Vic in person at the restaurant.
Charlie meets up with Vic, who is not too happy since they shouldnt be seen together after they just stole all this money. Charlie has another drink, and Vic gets a phone call from someone. Charlie asks him who called him, but Vic says that it was his wife. Vic tells Charlie that hell meet up with him if theres any trouble at Vics shop, The Velvet Room (Vic sells porno for a living). Vic leaves, and a waiter asks Charlie if he wouldnt mind sticking around and helping his drunk friend, Pete Van Heuten (Oliver Platt). Charlie does, and Pete is loud/obnoxious when he sees Charlie, calling him the best mob lawyer in all of Kans-ass. They have a couple of drinks, then Charlie drives Pete to his in-laws, where Pete is supposed to have dinner with his family. Pete, still very drunk, is rude and breaks off a leg from the turkey. We find out that Petes wife is actually Charlies ex-wife, and she cheated on Charlie with Pete while they were still married. Charlie has two kids, and he says hello to them. His son hates him since hes never around, but his daughter is happy to see him. Charlie and Pete leave after Pete insults his father-in-law and forces him to retreat to his room.
Charlie and Pete go to another bar for another drink, but its closing time. The bartender promises to give them each one drink but they must get out as soon as they are done with it. They agree, and they drink. Pete says that hes one drink away from bliss, and after hes done hes going to go home and think about the bartender naked. This doesnt amuse Charlie or the bartenders boyfriend, whos sitting at the bar. Charlie calls Sidney and asks if Renata is there. He says no, and his attention is more focused on the strippers abusive boyfriend who just showed up. He says that if he does anything, hell break his fingers off. Charlie then goes back to the bar just in time to see Pete being dragged outside by the bartenders boyfriend. Pete says that he scrapped his tummy, and is promptly kicked in the crotch by the boyfriend. Charlie takes Pete to the parking lot, where Pete vomits in Charlies car. Charlie drives Pete home (its actually Charlies old home) and lets him pass out on the floor. He then takes his exs expensive car and leaves his vomit filled car there. Somewhere along here Charlie goes to visit Renata, and shows her the photo. They are at the strip club from the beginning, and Renata asks Charlie about his recent money success. He tells her that they can really run away together, and Renata recognizes that he really does have feelings for her. They agree to meet up again after Charlie gets the money. On his way out, Charlie sees Sidney breaking the fingers of the abusive boyfriend. Charlie hears police sirens and tells Sidney to run away. Sidney tells him thats a good idea, and he was planning on taking his kids to Six Flags tomorrow anyways.
Charlie goes to the Velvet Room, where he hears some pornographic films still on. He looks around for Vic, but doesnt find him. What he does find is a severed thumb, which disturbs Charlie. He takes the thumb with him and drives away. He stops on a bridge and vomits. The cop from earlier comes by and puts on the siren, which causes Charlie to hit his head on a sign. The cop asks if hes okay, then goes away. Charlie drives to Vics house. Just as he pulls up to the house, he hears and sees a gunshot from inside. Charlie gets out of the car and sneaks into another car that is there. Charlie realizes that the car belongs to Roy Gelles. He grabs a tire iron and goes inside the house.
He sees Vics wife sitting by the Christmas tree. He slowly walks towards her and realizes that he has a bullet hole in her head. Shes dead. He turns around to leave when he runs into Vic, who asks him what the hell hes doing in his house. Charlie thought he was dead, but Vic tells him that he ran into Roy Gelles. Roy threatened to kill Vics wife unless he told him where the money is, and like Vic said, He must have assumed there some level of commitment or love in the marriage. Charlie asks where Roy is now, and they go to Vics garage. Vic kicks a metal trunk and Charlie hears Roy inside the trunk. Charlie asks Vic why he didnt just kill him, but Vic tells him that he plans on throwing him in the icy lake outside. Roy fires a couple of shots through the trunk, which causes Vic and Charlie to realize that he still have a gun. They debate on how to move him, and they wind up using the expensive car that Charlie stole from his ex. Vic, though, wraps his wifes body up and puts her in the trunk. This leaves no room for the metal trunk, so they put it in the backseat. Vic also puts a couple of bags in the backseat as well. They begin to drive to the lake.
On the car ride over there, Roy promises to kill Charlie when he gets out. He then asks Charlie to help him get out, but Charlie asks him about his previous comment. Roy, after a moment of silence, says that he was just kidding. Charlie asks Vic about his thumb, and then we find out that its actually Roys. Vic tosses it out of the window and laughs. Roy then tells Charlie that Vic killed his own wife, and that the only reason hes keeping Charlie around is so that he can help dispose of the bodies. After that, Vics going to kill Charlie. This gets Charlie a bit nervous, even though Vic plays it off as a bunch of lies. Vic shoots the trunk and assumes that he got him in the head.
Vic and Charlie arrive at the lake, and Charlie is visibly not trusting of Vic (who still has a gun). Regardless, they start to move the trunk to the pier. Once they get to the pier, though, Charlie says that he wants to push instead of pull (that way he wont be on the other side of the trunk with nowhere to go). Charlie sees that one of the trunks locks is open, and continues to push the trunk to the end while Vic pulls. When they get to the end, Vic tells Charlie to push the trunk up so that it is standing. When Charlie does, though, Roy (whos still alive) shoots Vic through the trunk and demands that Charlie lets him out. Charlie opens the trunk, and Roy points his gun at Vic, whos bleeding from the chest. It turns out that Roy is out of bullets, so Vic shoots him dead. However, when Roy falls dead he causes the end of the pier to collapse, and so Vic and the trunk fall into the icy water. Vic asks Charlie to help him, but he seriously debates on leaving him or not. This pisses off Vic, so he tries to shoot Charlie. Once he runs out of bullets though, Vic begins to panic (he cant swim). He then tells Charlie that hell never get the money, since its not in the backseat. Charlie leaves, and Vic struggles to stay above the surface. Charlie comes back and tells Vic that he doesnt want him dying alone. Charlie throws Vics wife on top of Vic, and Vic starts to drown. Charlie looks in the bags in the backseat to find that the money really is not there. He runs back to Vic to find that hes dead. He picks up Roys empty gun and leaves.
Charlie goes back to Petes house, where Pete is semi-conscious. Charlie has another drink, and talks with Pete about his family. Pete tells Charlie that he wants to be like him, but Charlie tells him that hes a bad person. Pete passes out again, and Charlie calls Renata again. He tells her that he doesnt have the money, ! but she says that its okay and that he should come over and theyll talk about. She left the front door to the strip bar open, and he can let himself in. Charlie hangs up, and we see that someone was holding a pistol to Renata head the whole time.
By the time Charlie drives to the strip club, the sun is starting to rise. He walks inside and finds Renata tied to a chair. He asks her who did it, and she says that its Bill Guerrard (Randy Quaid). Charlie, having no bullets, wonders what to do next. Renata tells him about the shotgun behind the bar, and he leaves just before Guerrard comes back from the bathroom (he thinks the Wichita falls writing is stupid). Charlie stole the money from Guerrard, and hes angry that hes here instead of watching his kids open their Christmas presents in Kansas City. He also talks about how Charlie is all brains and no balls, and Vic is all balls no brains (hence why they were partners in the robbery). Charlie loads the shotgun, takes a couple of extra shots, and walks into the room. Guerrard (caught off-guard) points his gun at Renata. Guerrard is confident that Charlie wont do anything, since he would have shot him by now. Guerrard insults Charlie, and Charlie shoots him in the face. On his way down, Guerrard fired off a shot but it hit a wall. Outside, we see the same cop that kept on running into Charlie hears the gunshots and goes inside to investigate.
Charlie starts to cut Renata free with scissors, but shes more concerned with whether Guerrard is dead or not. It turns out that hes not dead, and he stabs Charlie in the foot with a knife. Guerrard tells him that the shotgun is loaded with buck shots, and then starts to beat up Charlie when he sees that his face will be disfigured (the left side of his face is really bloody). The cop comes in and is promptly shot in the forehead by Guerrard. Renata cuts herself free and fights with Guerrard. Charlie, meanwhile, tries to grab the extra shells that he dropped but they are out of reach (and that knife in his foot is rather painful). During the scuffle, Guerrard kicks the blade deeper into Charlies foot. Guerrard throws Renata against a wall and prepares to kill her. Charlie pulls the knife out of his foot, gets the ammo, and loads the shotgun. He puts the shotgun up to Guerrards head and blows his head off (off-screen). Renata is covered in Guerrards blood, and says that the holidays just wont be the same after this.
Charlie bandages his foot and has another drink. Renata goes into the bathroom and cleans herself up. Charlie then figures out that the phone call from earlier (that Vic received in the restaurant) wasnt from his wife but from Renata, and that she was actually at the restaurant earlier (she left with Vic). He then walks over to the closet and finds Vics bag there (with all the money). He realizes that hes still in danger. Renata walks out wearing skimpy clothing and says to the winner, the spoils. She kisses Charlie and asks him if he loves her. He says that he always liked her. She wraps her hands around his neck and kisses him again. Charlie shoots her in the chest with a pistol, and we see that Renata had a blade and was cutting the back of Charlies neck. Renata dies. Charlie takes the money and leaves.
We next see Charlie on a lone stretch of highway where he sees an RV is pulled over. He gets out and realizes that its Sidney. He ran out of gas, so Charlie gives him some of his and stands by himself against the wind (the opening shot). Sidney calls Charlie the nicest man hes ever known, but Charlie knows better. Sidney gets into the RV with his family and starts it up. Charlie grabs a marker and writes Wichita falls, so fall Wichita falls. The end is a little sloppy though, because Sidney backs up and accidentally hits Charlie, who turns out to be okay. Charlie gets back into his exs car and we see Pete wake up in the backseat. He asks Charlie where they are. Charlie says that they are in heaven. Pete asks if they have pancakes in heaven, and Charlie says that they have everything. Charlie and Pete drive off.
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