An unemployed football player (Jeff Bridges, Winter Kills) is hired to find the girlfriend (Rachel Ward, Fortress) of a shady nightclub owner (James Woods, Best Seller). Things get complicated when the athlete falls in love with the woman in question.
Reaction & Thoughts:
“He said the only way I’d get away from him would be to kill him.”
Truth be told, I’m always skeptical of remakes, especially remakes of great movies — wouldn’t it make more sense to try to fix a movie that got it wrong the first time? This remake of Jacques Tourneur’s legendary 1947 production Out of the Past, one of the best noir films ever made, is a pleasant surprise for a number of reasons.
At the risk of being considered sacrilegious, I have to admit that I like Against All Odds nearly as much as I like Out of the Past. Maybe it’s because I saw the remake first, or maybe it’s because as an ’80s kid, I have an easier time relating to the remake’s sensibilities. I really don’t know, but I feel the remake is pretty awesome.
Directed by Taylor Hackford (An Officer and a Gentleman) from a script by Eric Hughes (White Nights), Against All Odds does a superb job updating the story to the ’80s. I thought all the changes made sense. I particularly liked how this version connects the main characters with one another. Furthermore, all the characters have been given clear motivations — the 1947 movie left many things unexplained.
I also loved the fact that the romance was amplified. Despite being a bona fide neo-noir, Against All Odds is first and foremost a love story. The love scenes are pretty steamy, and Jeff Bridges and Rachel Ward have insanely good chemistry. Their crazy, passionate love affair is believable — they are deeply flawed, but essentially good people, two misfit toys who unexpectedly find comfort and hope in each other’s arms.
The supporting cast complements Bridges and Ward outstandingly. James Woods is always a great heavy. It was fun to see veteran Richard Widmark as a corrupt politician. After all, he started his career as one of noir’s most unforgettable villains in the classic Kiss of Death. Athlete-turned-actor Alex Karras (Victor/Victoria) plays a football coach, Swoosie Kurtz (Dangerous Liaisons) plays a secretary who helps Bridges nail the bad guys and Dorian Harewood (Sparkle) plays Woods’s henchman.
Jane Greer, who played the unforgettable femme fatale in Out of the Past, plays Ward’s mother here. This isn’t a meaningless cameo. It’s in fact a pivotal supporting role that adds another layer to the story. Greer’s character, an unscrupulous land developer, is the key to understanding Ward’s character. The film does feature a “meaningless cameo” by Paul Valentine, who played a henchman in the 1947 film.
Phil Collins’s superb, Oscar-nominated title song is justly legendary. It’s a great song that perfectly captures the mood of the film — pay attention to the lyrics, the song adds a poignant postscript to the movie. French composer Michel Colombier (The Money Pit and The Golden Child) and American guitarist Larry Carlton (ex-member of the jazz group The Crusaders) are responsible for the incidental music.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
One could argue that Out of the Past has fewer flaws than Against All Odds (the remake does lose a bit of momentum during the second half), but that doesn’t mean that the remake is worthless (the 1947 movie isn’t perfect either). I love both movies for different reasons. Out of the Past is rightly considered a classic, but I feel Against All Odds is an unjustly unappreciated thriller. Color, 121 minutes, Rated R.