Clint Eastwood, hot off of his Academy Award win for Unforgiven, directed this small character study, appearing in the guise of a cops-and-robbers action picture. The film takes place during the fall of 1963. Eight-year old Phillip Perry (T.J. Lowther), the son of a devout Jehovah's Witness mother, is staying home while all the other children are out trick-or-treating. But then prison escapee Butch Haynes (Kevin Costner) appears in his kitchen. Needing a hostage to aid him in his escape from jail, he grabs Phillip. Phillip curiously looks up to Butch and willingly accompanies him. Butch gets rid of his fellow escapee after he tries to molest the child, and Butch and Phillip take to the Texas highway, on the run from the cops. The cop in pursuit in this instance is Police Chief Red Garnett (Clint Eastwood), riding in his sleek Populux Airglide trailer -- his "mobile command headquarters." On the road with Garnett is Sally Gerber (Laura Dern), a pushy pre-feminist criminologist, along with a creepy federal agent who is an expert sharpshooter. Butch is not particularly anxious to make it to the Texas borderline, and neither is Garnett in any particular hurry to catch Butch. As Butch and Phillip form a father-son attachment, the paths of Butch and Garnett gradually come together, in time for a final confrontation, after which Garnett confesses, "I don't know nothing. I don't know a damn thing."
by Paul Brenner synopsis