Monday, June 5, 2023

Ten Reasons I Love NOWHERE TO RUN

 by Adam Riske

Check this one out for ‘90s Action Day!

Nowhere to Run features some memorable action hero dialogue that’s great because of how not great it is. For example, when Jean- Claude Van Damme answers a couple of henchmen who want to know who he is by saying “I’m the parking attendant and you’re bothering my customers” and then later “Strike three, you’re out!” after beating one up with a piece of wood. It all culminates with Van Damme taking out the big bad at the end with a kiss-off line of “Au revoir, fucker!” Van Damme and the filmmakers are working overtime to get their own “Hasta La Vista Baby” and it’s adorable.

• Speaking of Jean-Claude Van Damme, this is one of the best performances of his early movies and indicative of the emotional depth he’d tap into throughout his later career in films like Timecop, Sudden Death, and JCVD. The trailer touted Nowhere to Run as “Jean-Claude Van Damme as you’ve never seen him before” and they’re right since this was a stretch for him in 1993 after building up his bona fides with mostly sci-fi/action and martial arts films.
• Van Damme is ably supported by Rosanna Arquette, who brings the movie a certain gravitas and grounding. The conflict of the film feels urgent because of how much we like Rosanna Arquette’s character. Even though the action is scaled down compared to a usual Jean-Claude Van Damme movie, it’s better in my opinion because it’s emotionally driven with characters that are easy to root for. Arquette plays the owner of the land that Van Damme’s on-the-run fugitive is squatting at and the two develop a romance because of course they do – one of them is Jean-Claude Van Damme and one of them is Rosanna Arquette.

• Van Damme and Arquette have a love scene and it’s hot! They’re two lonely people so it’s like Chicken Soup for the Soul sex scored by Point Break & The Majestic composer Mark Isham! The love scene is even better because the foreplay is all farmhouse sex heat down to the detail of him having been sleeping in her barn.

Nowhere to Run is an example of maybe my favorite sub-genre within Action movies which is the “Goin’ Country” action flick. Other examples are Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Last Stand, Steven Seagal in Fire Down Below, Jason Statham in Homefront, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in Walking Tall. The moment anyone goes to the hardware store for supplies or fixes someone’s porch, I’m 1000% in. I love that the underlying tone of all these movies is this:

Friendly Local: “You’re not from around here, are ya?”
Protagonist: “I’m not from around here, but I want to be from around here.”
Unfriendly Local: “We have a thing or two to say to people who aren’t from around here.”

• Among the supporting cast is Kieran Culkin as Arquette’s son nicknamed Mookie because I assume he loves Do the Right Thing. In the third act he does the right thing by beating up a henchman while goading him with Home Alone style taunts like “Come and get me, you big jerk.”
• The main villain is played by the fantastic Ted Levine coming right after his Silence of the Lambs bump. Levine has some great intimidation scenes and one-on-one taunting with Van Damme before their big showdown. Maybe my favorite part is Levine has a magic trick gimmick involving a deck of cards and when his character is (SPOILER) dispatched all the playing cards fly through the air as if to signify that the threat is over, and he has dealt his last hand. G-D tier stuff.

• The third wheel love interest is played by Edward Blatchford who looks exactly like Michael Bay, and I mean exactly.

• “Silence is Broken” by Damn Yankees plays over the end credits and it’s a jam! The chorus will make you feel like you can run through a wall. Like “everything will be ok now” type of courage.
• The movie starts with Van Damme sneaking around Arquette’s farm. Culkin thinks the mysterious figure is E.T., and it totally works because the set-up is pretty similar to E.T. in how they meet. Both movies end (SPOILER) with E.T. going away after a tearful goodbye. So, Van Damme is like E.T. but also like the T-800 in Terminator 2: Judgement Day (his catchphrases, his bonding with a young boy as a father figure). The tagline for this movie should have been “What if E.T. were The Terminator and he banged your mom?” One please.

1 comment:

  1. Great review! I really liked this movie too. It even has a "Goin' Camping" scene. I had forgotten about Levine (who's a great villain) dabbling in amateur magic.

    I really wanted to watch a Van Damme today, but one I haven't seen.
    Legionnaire and Inferno are unfortunately not available to rent. So that leaves Knock Off which has a terrible IMDb rating, but lots of positivity in the user reviews. Could be a Juneploitation hit!