Great acting. Low-key, slow burn. Solid writing, great dialogue. It's a character study movie, not really a thriller - the point isn't the action, it's the characters. Tarantinoesque flashbacks and non-linear storyline. Some genuine surprises to the plot. For a first-time director, it’s very good.
I saw a clip on AintItCoolNews and was immediately hooked - I like Vince Vaughn, and this is one of his best dramatic performances I've seen. Malkovich is a hoot - I loved his character, and he's got the funniest line deliveries in the movie. Liam Hemsworth - never been a big fan, but he really does a good job playing the strong, brooding protagonist (I sort of hesitate to call him a hero). And I pretty much fell in love with Eden Brolin. And dude - OMAR! From THE WIRE! YES!
For those who are bothered by these things: there’s a couple of very violent scenes. Accents aren’t really correct for the region (although, to be fair, only ONE character is actually said to actually BE from Arkansas). For a drug dealer movie, there’s almost no drugs – the drug part feels more like a vehicle for a “dark night of the soul” tale. The movie’s quirky, with more of an emphasis on odd characters and funny dialogue than realism. And in my opinion, there are a couple of scenes/developments that don’t really make much sense – mostly between Vince Vaughn and Omar, after something happens between the two.
But overall, a very good movie. Is it BREAKING BAD? No. Is it RESERVOIR DOGS or PULP FICTION (though it borrows some narrative devices from those movies)? No. But I’ve enjoyed it more than 90% of the other movies and TV shows I’ve seen in the last few months.