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Monday, 6 November 2017

Retro Review: Nowhere To Run (1993)

Nowhere To Run
Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Rosanna Arquette, Kieran Culkin, Ted Levine, Joss Ackland
Genre: Action
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $52 million

Plot: Escaped convict Sam Gillen singlehandedly takes on ruthless developers determined to evict Clydie - a widow with two young children. Nobody knows who Sam is

'This Overly Melodramatic Action Flick Has Nowhere To Hide'

I was actually looking forward to rewatching Nowhere To Run to see how it still fares today.... that was until I stumbled the upon the writing credits and I saw that none other Joe Eszterhas had partially penned this film alongside two other writers. After that, my level of enthusiasm for Nowhere To Run had dropped considerably. 

Nowhere to Run stars Jean-Claude Van Damme who is Sam, a convicted felon who flees from a scene and escape from a bus. He ends up in a small town where he meets a woman, a widower and her children who are being aggressively bullied by an evil land developer and Sam helps them out.

There are some cringe-worthy scenes: one of them is at the breakfast table and the girl, Bree mentions ''he's got a big penis''. As if that kind of talk is permissible when eating at the table. Bree's brother is oddly named Mookie, which is laughable. But then, come to think of it, Spike Lee's character in Do The Right Thing was called Mookie, but he was a cool kind of guy. There is also a gratuitous nudity scene where a naked Van Damme is bathing in the river & the two kids catch him in on the act.

I can't help but think how Van Damme was terribly miscast in the main role - this film just doesn't scream 'Van Damme' as a film and I just couldn't picture him playing that character. Yes, he attempts to stretch himself as an actor, and yet the barren and tepid script did him no favours. The screenplay reeks of laziness on Eszterhas's part, which is not a big deal to me as I am not an admirer of the scripts he churns out. Despite the box office financial successes of Basic Instinct, Flashdance, he is still, by all means for me, a terrible writer, where character development is moot. In this effort, action films are just not his forte. And though Nowhere To Run tries to mould JCVD into a star where like Arnold Schwarzenegger he has the ability to allow his acting to accompany the story, the same just couldn't be said for Van Damme where the story required a performance from him that showed he can truly act. Nowhere To Run didn't have one.  

Nowhere To Run is also far too melodramatic than it should be for a film of this nature. 

As for the action, it's run-of-the-mill, is at times boring and there is nothing we haven't seen before. Yet the fact of the matter is Van Damme is in a role of which he is particularly unsuited for. The other performances are as stilted and one-note as they were. 

Lacking the grit and over-the-top action, the warning signs were there from the beginning, just by seeing Joel Esterhaz's name flashing in blinking lights, & an action film which has the feel and hallmarks of a B-movie, straight to DVD - and with that, Nowhere to Run didn't stand a chance.

Final Verdict:

Along with Streetfighter and several direct-to-DVD bombs, Nowhere To Run are two of Jean-Claude Van Damme's notably weakest movie offerings. The melodrama is overworked and overdone, quantity and quality-wise, the action is below par, & yet Van Damme should count his lucky stars that the success of Hard Target compensated for this sub-par offering. 

Largely forgettable and dull & less fun than it comes across, this is beyond a bore. 

Nowhere To Run it says... wrong, I thus choose to run away from this generic & almost nothing actioner.


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