5 Plot Point Breakdown: A Simple Plan (1998)

By Cameron Cubbison · August 27, 2015

Screenplay Genre: Crime / Drama

Movie Time: 121 minutes


Hank (Bill Paxton), his brother Jacob (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jacob’s friend Lou (Brent Briscoe) happen upon a crashed airplane in the middle of the woods containing four and half million dollars in unmarked bills. After a brief debate, they decide to take the money. (00:11:20)

2. LOCK IN (End of Act One)

Still doubting his decision, Hank is convinced by his wife Sarah (Bridget Fonda) to return some of the money to the plane to avoid suspicion. On their way back to the crash site, the two brothers encounter an old man on a snowmobile. In a panic, Jacob attacks him in order to avoid blowing their covers. When the man regains consciousness and threatens to go to the police, Hank decides to suffocate him and hide the body. (00:35:00)


Hank and Jacob grow paranoid over the old man’s murder. Sarah convinces her husband to frame the murder on Jacob’s friend Lou. The two brothers visit Lou’s house and attempt to coax a drunken confession out of him. Lou realizes he’s being set up and a gunfight erupts. After killing Lou and his wife, Hank and Jacob stage the murders to look like a domestic dispute. (01:08:30)

4. MAIN CULMINATION (End of Act Two)

The cash is revealed to be ransom money from a failed kidnapping. Soon after, a mobster named Baxter (Gary Cole) arrives in town disguised as an FBI agent. After an initial meeting with Sheriff Jenkins (Chelcie Ross), Hank and Jacob agree to accompany Baxter to the crash site the following day. (01:30:02)


A gunfight erupts at the crash site. Sheriff Jenkins and Baxter are killed. Hank and Jacob emerge unscathed, but Jacob reveals he can no longer live with what he’s done. He tells Hank that unless he kills him, he’s going to turn himself into the authorities. Faced with an impossible choice, Hank is forced to shoot his brother and frame the incident on Baxter. (1:47:30)

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