Film and action summary
Theft, lust and lethal behavior. It’s Christmas Eve in Wichita, Kansas, and this year Charlie Arglist might want to celebrate a little. Charlie, the sleazy company lawyer from Wichita, and his nasty sidekick, Vic Cavanaugh from Steel, have just managed to embezzle $2 million from the boss of Kansas City, Bill Gerrard. But the real prize for Charlie is the great Renata, who runs the strip club Sweet Cage. Charlie’s hoping to leave town with Renata. But as daylight fades and the ice storm swells, everyone from Charlie’s drinking buddy Pete Van Heuten to the local police begins to wonder what exactly is in Charlie’s Christmas stocking – and the 12 o’clock of Christmas Eve are full of surprises.
Film Harvest Ice Letter
Below you will find an overview of the spoilers.
Christmas Eve in Wichita, Kansas. Charlie Arglist (John Cusack) is a lawyer who works for the Mafia. Vic Cavanaugh (Billy Bob Thornton) is a corrupt businessman and pornographer. Together they stole two million dollars from their boss, the gangster Bill Gerrard (Randy Quaid). The couple planned to leave the city and flee with their small fortune, but they soon learned that the roads in and around Wichita had become too icy for traffic because of the weather. They decided to stay in town until they could successfully leave. They split up to better avoid being arrested by Guerrard or his men who discovered the theft. Vic decides he’ll keep the money safe.
Charlie goes to the local strip club, the Sweet Cage. The club is owned by Vic and run by Renate Cross (Connie Nielsen), the woman Charlie loves. Renata, an expert in reading people, soon realizes that Charlie is hiding something. Charlie suggests he might find the money, and Renata suggests they run away together. However, Renata informs Charlie that she must first take an incriminating photo with a local Vic politician before she can accompany him. She asks Charlie to take a picture for her, which he accepts. Before leaving, Charlie has a short conversation with his friend Sidney (Ned Bellamy), a bouncer from the club.
Charlie went to another strip club Vic owned, Chise-O-Rama. When he gets there, he takes a picture of Vic’s locker. Before his departure, one of Guerrard’s accomplices, Roy Gelles (Mike Starr), comes to the club to look for Charlie. Charlie’s hiding in the men’s room, which Gelles will soon be leaving to settle. While Gelles reads a limerick on the wall above the urinal, Charlie sneaks away. Charlie then goes to a local restaurant and meets his friend Pete Van Heuten (Oliver Platt), who is married to Charlie’s ex-wife, Sarabeth (Justin Bentley). Pete is very drunk and decides to go with Charlie until he faints.
Shortly afterwards Charlie Vic calls from a phone booth and notices that the same toilet sentence is in a red marker on the phone. Charlie tells Vic that Gelles is in town looking for him. Vic rejects the warning and tells Charlie that the Gelles family is in Wichita. Vic doesn’t answer why Gelles was looking for Charlie. Charlie then goes back to the Cage of Happiness and gives Renata the picture she asked for. Renata told Charlie that Vic had called her earlier and told her Charlie was right about Gelles looking for them.
Charlie then takes Pete home after puking in Charlie’s car, causing him to faint on the living room floor. Charlie then borrows the Mercedes Benz Sarabeth that Pete bought and goes to Vic’s house. When he gets there, he finds Vic’s wife dead from a gunshot wound to the head. Vic arrives a few minutes later and informs Charlie that he has locked Gelles in a trunk with company clothing. He also tells Charlie that Gelles must have killed his wife. The two men push Gelles and Vic’s dead wife into the trunk of a Mercedes Benz and drive to the local lake. Gellas yelling at people from the trunk when they’re on the road. Gelles claims he didn’t kill Vic’s wife, but Vic did. Vic gets angry and punches a hole in the trunk, shutting Gelles up.
Once at the lake, Charlie and Vic take the suitcase to the dock of the lake, but the suitcase is opened from the inside by Gelles. The victim was injured. A short shoot-out follows, in which Gelles is killed and Vic dives into the frozen lake while the dock collapses. Charlie realizes Vic’s plan all this time was to kill him and take the money for himself. Charlie leaves Vic for dead. He drags Vic’s wife to the collapsed pier and drags her into the lake, causing a begging Vic to fall under water. Charlie opens Vic’s suitcase and expects to find stolen money. Instead, he finds only Vic’s clothes. Charlie suddenly realizes that without Vic, he’ll never find the money before Gerrard. Charlie’s going back to the dock to save Vic, but it’s too late. The victim has already drowned.
Charlie’s back in town and back in the Sweet Cage. He discovers that Gerrard himself has come to town and tied Renata to an office chair to get information about the whereabouts of Charlie and Vic. Charlie finds a gun in the bar and points it at Guerrard. Another exchange of fire follows, but Charlie’s rifle is loaded with a small caliber bullet that only wounds Guerrard. The mob boss beat Charlie in the leg despite his injuries. Renata distracts Guerrilla long enough for Charlie to reload more kill shot and kill the mobster.
Renata’s taking Charlie to her house. While Renata takes a shower, Charlie finds money hidden in the closet. In a flashback, the film reveals that Vic and Renata planned to run away together after Vic had killed Charlie. When Renata returns to the room, Charlie shoots Renata just before he kills him with a hidden razor.
Charlie starts leaving town with the stolen money. He meets Sidney on the side of the road with his kids in a camper van. Charlie stops to help his friend. Charlie’s helping Sidney siphon gas out of his car. While Sydney tries to start the motorhome’s engine, Charlie pulls out a red Sharpie and writes the same limerick on the back of the motorhome. Sydney starts the vehicle and accidentally knocks Charlie’s scribbles over before leaving. Charlie gets up and goes back to the Mercedes. Pete wakes up in the back seat of a stolen car, and the two men leave together in warm weather.
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