No Way Back
Directed by Frank A. Cappello
Writer: Frank A. Cappello
Also starring: Helen Slater (Mary), Etsushi Toyokawa (Yuji), Michael Lerner (Frank Serlano), Ian Ziering (Victor Serlano.. familiar from Beverly Hills 90201)

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4crowe.gif (2068 bytes)If you like Russell Crowe strictly as an action hero this is your cuppa tea. Among Crowe fans it is considered his least known work. It is not even well-received by some of his staunchest fans. However, this film does have some merit and should be carefully considered when viewing it the next time you have a Russell Crowe filmfest. The new and not so new fans should realize this film is not in the same caliber as his other extraordinary works. It was made during the time when he started making films in the U.S. (mid 90's). You might say he had to pay some dues in the process of film roles. That might explain why he did this film in the first place (when his talents exceeded everyone else's by far).

The film does have a made for t.v. (cable) element to it, a very weak script, almost non-existent character development and storyline. No question, "No Way Back" is action driven in the strictest sense. Thankfully, this is the one and only time Crowe did a film for cable television. At least "No Way Back" is a cut above your typical action genre escapist movie, due in part to Russell Crowe's outstanding acting ability.

There are, however, some memorable scenes that are worth pointing out and should be praised. When Zack Grant is on the flight back to L.A. with Yuji, the Yakuza fugitive, finding he cannot get to sleep and begins his first flashback of the delivery room scene when he's helping his wife with giving birth to their son, Eric, and the tragic consequences which followed. It was by far Crowe's most emotional and best performance in the entire film. The well-paced and slick camera work during the card table scene (playing "Guts") had a well executed build up and the suspense had you hooked.

The skinhead characters throughout the film were reminiscent of Crowe's critically acclaimed role in "Romper Stomper". It has been written the cameo role of Ian Ziering portraying a skinhead modeled his tatoos after "Hando" from "Romper Stomper" ( it did not say if Mr. Crowe acted as an unofficial technical adviser). The title of the film is aptly named because Zack Grant does whatever it takes to get his son back, thus becoming through desperate measures a renegade rogue "Dirty Harry" type character. In his characterization we see that his emotions are carefully internalized (unlike so many of his other films roles where it is the complete opposite) by the use of his mind being so preoccupied with the same flashbacks in some following scenes. As always and so true to his word, Crowe's appearance is typically different from the other past (or present) films with his long hair and bangs, plus a full beard making him look like a hippie-esque FBI Agent.

One comedic scene in particular has become a classic for "No Way Back" when the dialogue between Mary (the "flighty" flight attendant), Zack, and Yuji argue who was the best Star Trek Captain. Another ironic scene is where Mary serves kiwi fruit to Yuji and Zack gives her this "give me a break" look to Mary. The last scenes are very suspenseful, especially with the underwater sequences with Zack (a good swimmer and love how his hair flows underwater). There are truly remarkable turnaround heroic efforts on the part of Mary and Yuji.

The next time you view this film, and for the ones seeing it the first time, give "No Way Back" a chance it deserves. The more you understand about this film, the more you can appreciate it

Rated: Four Crowes

0crowe.gif (1799 bytes)Russell Crowe plays FBI agent Zack Grant, a man determined to bring down a Neo-Nazi Skin-head leader, Victor Sellano (Ian Ziering).

Grant apparently is skating on thin ice with his boss, which was hinted at in the beginning, but was never fully explained. He really needs to get the goods on Sellano, but things don't go as planned and Grant finds himself on the run from the FBI, Japanese mob, and Sellano's father.

The story starts off with a powerful punch but looses steam as soon as Mary, the flight attendant (Helen Slater), enters the picture. From there it's all downhill. Several plot holes and gaffes later, the viewer is left with the feeling that he/she was lost somewhere along the way. Poor writing and character development may keep the viewer from caring about any of the characters, including Grant.

A couple of scenes where Russell manages to elicit a smile from us is when he encounters Mary on the plane and afterward while pushing the car. In a sarcastic turn, he manages to put the very annoying and chatty Mary in her place.  But these moments alone are not enough to save this film.

With no help from the supporting cast, the movie limps along until the viewer can't help but pray for it to end, and soon.

I consider this one to be the worst film he appears in that I've seen, running a close race with Virtuosity. No wonder it was released straight to video/HBO. But you should see it, just for the sarcastic Russell moments.

Note to director: Jumbo jets do not stop on a dime.

Note to Russell: Bad hair is distracting, especially in a bad movie.

Rated: Zero

Oh dear. Not to worry. The idea was sound, however, somewhere between the story board and release something went amiss. The passenger jet landing on the rural air-strip was a bit F.A.B. and as for the script... with a few bright moments ... least said soonest mended. Not one for the video collection.
Rated: two crowes

Thanks to the Crowe Slide Shows site for the screen captures!

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