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Paul G. Volk
Colette is an attractive ex-CIA agent seeking revenge against a ruthless villan and his organization of trained assasins for the murder of her husband while the man is also after mobster Frank Di Vinci for his own personal reasons. It isn't long before the paths of both Colette and Frank meet whom they share the same vendetta against the same man and they reluctnaly try to co-operate with each other to bring him down. Written by
I saw this movie for rent at my local video store and couldn't believe my good luck. Here was a low-budget potboiler (I'm a sucker for those) with the most gorgeous girl to ever have been born (I refer, of course, to Anna Nicole Smith) on the box cover and a title that practically screamed RENT ME! I thought for sure it was too good to be true.
Guess what? My disillusionment kicked in just a few minutes into the movie. I guess I should have realized that B-level and direct-to-video movies, while generally benefiting from more originality and freedom from censorship than the big-studio films, necessarily face a trade-off in production values and (sometimes, as in this case) performances by the actors.
What was this film shot with - a camcorder? The picture quality is very faded and fuzzy; if I didn't know better, I'd have sworn this was made in the 1970s. I tried to grin and bear it, telling myself it would get better. It did - but not by much.
The music was terrible and the plot left me cold. Just WHAT was this film about? All I managed to catch on to was some gobbledygook about a gangland hit, a stolen computer disk, and some atrocity in Vietnam - that's about it. The rest is just mindless exposition set mostly in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, with random characters showing up and leaving without rhyme or reason.
For having her name above the title, Anna Nicole was not even on the screen that much. She is supposed to be Colette DuBois, a worldly-wise government agent - but she plays the role with her lazy Texas accent intact. And while it's true that she can hold her own in fights with the villains, Colette seems far less concerned with kicking butt than with showing off her own. There are points where the narrative actually grinds to a dead stop so director Raymond Martino can offer voyeuristic shots of a naked Colette showering or doing other supposedly private things. (To be fair, Anna Nicole was not at all bad-looking naked in the mid-1990s.) It is nearly impossible to take Colette seriously as a hard-bitten hero; she seems to realize this, and makes a vain attempt to butch up by spouting obnoxious profanities throughout the picture.
TO THE LIMIT also starred Joey Travolta and a whole bunch of other people you probably wouldn't know from folks you'd run into on the street. Travolta is likable - assuming that's worth something - but he seems more befuddled than anything else. Many of the performers, in fact, seem to have been inserted just to make Anna look good.
The movie abounds in unintentional comedy, from the stereotyped accents of the mobsters to the sight of deadly assassins in black cat suits and ninja masks. (Does anyone ever wear such a getup in real life?) I stopped trying to take anything seriously after a skinny female assassin decks a man three times larger than she with a single punch. (For people who are offended by explicit content, I must also warn that there is some truly grisly violence - including a tragic wedding massacre - along with the exposure of Anna's voluptuousness.) Worst of all was the plot, which seemed cobbled together at the last second from various genres and tropes of movies past. Martino even offers us a flashback to the Vietnam War; he apparently saw one too many Oliver Stone films and was under the impression that Vietnam equals cool.
I really wanted to like TO THE LIMIT, if only for Anna's tremendous beauty and its air of B-movie innocence. I did enjoy watching it, but it was hard for me to stomach without a sense of irony. You can imagine my embarrassment when, after telling a roommate I was watching an action movie and being asked whether it starred Steven Seagal or Jean-Claude Van Damme or someone like that, I had to confess that it starred Anna Nicole Smith.
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