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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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
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
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.
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!