First off, one thing must be made clear: there seems to be, in reviews of this flick, the idea that any crime drama in black & white is "film noir," a phrase which is widely overused. This movie follows none of the conventions of film noir and cannot be called noir by any stretch of the imagination. Actually it seems to have the appearance of a made-for-TV drama.
Secondly, the script is simply atrocious. It is loaded with so many clichés, overripe formulations and contrived dialogue that it feels like it was written by Ed Wood. A leaden phrase like "Women are what make life a pleasure for men," comes to mind. What a howler!
Thirdly, anyone with any knowledge of espionage knows that, historically, neither the Nazis nor the Communists employed elements of the criminal underworld; such cannot be relied on.
Fourthly, this is as great an assemblage of lousy actors as I have ever seen in one flick. The level of acting is simply terrible, and that includes Robinson, who, as noted elsewhere here, phones in his performance. This is probably to be expected, with such a lousy script. Why he signed on to this effort is beyond me; he must have needed the money badly. And this flick also shows that Raft, despite his reputation, was no great actor. Audrey Totter is a familiar face, but she's nothing to write home about either.
Lastly, the concluding scene aboard the ship is so contrived, patched together and full of improbabilities as to defy belief.
To summarize in two words, skip it.
A con (Costner) and his cellmate escape from prison. During the course of the escape they take a small boy hostage. Eastwood is the Texas Ranger who must track him down.
Costner's con, you see, has suffered abuse as a child, so of course he turns out to be sort of an avenging angel against abusers, protecting the boy from his cellmate and generally acting as a shining defender of kids in general. (The reality, which is that victims of child abuse overwhelmingly go on to become abusers themselves, would not make for so warm and fuzzy a story). Predictably, the kid and the con go through a protracted bonding process wherein Costner turns out to be just a peachy-keen swell sort of guy, just right to fill in for the dad the boy doesn't have. The fact that he has kidnapped the kid, kills two people in the course of the movie, terrorizes a family that has shown him and the kid hospitality, subverted the mother's religion in the eyes of the child, and brought untold emotional suffering to the kid's mom (whom we see for no more than 5 minutes total) is not supposed to interfere with our sympathy for this crumb.
Laura Dern's function here, in the part of a penology expert assigned to the case by the governor, is to supply the opportunity for the boringly predictable little P.C. sermonettes about gender oppression and female empowerment that movies must have nowadays (is there a federal mandate at work here?).
Clint still has it in him to make a good thriller, e.g "In the Line of Fire", but he shows signs of being seduced by the siren song of trendy social issues and 'victimology'. This movie smacks more of Oprah Winfrey than of Harry Callahan. Forget it. Watch "Magnum Force" again instead.
I hope Carrey has been shrewdly investing the big bucks he's been getting to make these movies, because I don't see how he's going to parlay this junior high schmuck routine into a lifelong career.
I don't know whether the script (such as it is) is weaker than in the first one, or it's just that this shtick wears progressively thinner and thinner (and more and more annoying), but suffice it to say that before the thing even finished I abandoned ship to watch a press conference by Richard Gephardt. The press conference was more amusing.
Are we surprised that the young people of our country are becoming more and more devoid of human sympathy and compassion when network tv seeks to immerse them deeper and deeper into an imaginative world that models the very worst in human behavior as funny and cool??? How can we be surprised that boys are sexually assaulting girls at younger at younger ages when we are destroying the natural innocence of childhood by bringing this moral sewage into the environment???
All concerned with this program and all the others of its ilk should be ashamed of themselves. Of course the hip and cool and cutting-edge crowd finds it laughable to consider such concepts as decency and common morality, but in ancient Athens the crime of "corrupting the young" was a serious charge. Socrates was not guilty of it, but the people that produce this garbage certainly are. Go ahead and laugh.
I enjoy contemplating the thought of all the childless Gen-xers who doubtless love this show, at some point in the future having to monitor their own children's tv viewing. Considering what Action and South Park are like in 1999, and the rate at which these shows are outpacing each other in "edginess", I can only imagine what those future parents will have to deal with in 2010. Good luck.
This is the effect of the Hillary Clinton-ish little speech on male violence we get at the end of this otherwise strong story which leads us up to the tragic conclusion that Wade cannot escape the forces that shaped him. That little monologue clubs us over the head and deflates the whole movie, transforming it from a moderately engrossing story with a good feeling for tragic destiny, to a social uplift screed.
Wade's daughter, who we sympathise with at first, I found to be somewhat of an unlikeable little whiner by the end, especially when she snubs Wade's desperate efforts to buy her a Big Mac because "junk food is bad for you." (When she whined "I want to go home" for the 100th time, I wanted Wade to say "Fine by me!", and turn the truck around). Coburn's performance is a bit ham-handed and the script doesn't help him at the end when it calls for him to "congratulate" Wade at the point when the son seems, a bit too obviously, to have finally become his father. The murder mystery subplot seems a cheap device to try to give the movie some box office boost, and is completely gratuitous.
Having said that, Nolte's beautifully-paced performance does have a gripping urgency to it, as Wade tries more and more desperately, against the odds, to escape his destiny. The tone of the movie is wonderfully bleak and foreboding, and the sense of impending doom is well-conveyed. The final scene, of Wade sitting, drinking, at the kitchen table with the window framing the burning barn outside, is a memorably powerful image. Unfortunately it is destroyed by that awful voiceover.
The movie is still, however, far superior to most of the dreck coming out of Hollywood nowadays.
Alice (Mia Farrow) is a restless middle aged woman who has married into great wealth and leads a life of aimless luxury with her rather boring husband and their two small children. This rather mundane plot concept is livened up with such implausibilities as an old Chinese folk healer who makes her invisible with some magic herbs, and the ghost of a former lover (with whom she flies over Manhattan). If these additions sound too fantastic for you, how about something more prosaic, like an affair with a saxophone player?
I was never quite sure of what this mixed up muddle was trying to say. There are only a handful of truly funny moments in the film, and the endingis a really preposterous touch of Pollyanna.
Rent 'Crimes and Misdemeanors' instead, a superbly well-done film that suceeds in combining comedy with a serious consideration of ethics and morals. Or go back to "Annie Hall" or "Manhattan".
It was nice of the producers to include the photos of the actual victims in the closing credits. During the movie itself there is minimal emotion at their loss; the burial of their remains is portrayed with as much moral weight as the burial of a pickle jar.
When our family went to see it (yes, there was a time when families went to the movies together! yes, there was a time when there were movies suitable for the whole family to watch!) I remember being completely swept away by the spectacle, the romance, the sheer sweep of the thing. I was too young at the time to recognize many of the actors who put in the plethora of cameos, but it's fun to do so today. The movie's main theme quickly entered the popular music repertoire and became practically ubiquitous. The problem in evaluating the movie now is not to allow fond nostalgia to interfere with an objective assessment.
[**** minor spoiler **** ] The movie is a tad dated, but not, I think, fatally so. It still stands up as a fast-paced adventure yarn with a touch of tongue-in-cheek comedy and a certain archness (as witness the very final closing words in an aside to the audience) bestowed by David Niven's strong lead. The chemistry between him and Cantinflas works well, and Robert Newton provides a good foil as Mr. Fix. Shirley Maclaine, however, is miscast. (For a real hoot, by the way, click on the `full cast and crew' link of this movie in IMDB, where each and every actor, including ALL the extras, is listed alphabetically. What a riot!)
One previous viewer complained about a lack of character development. Yes, and one doesn't go to a hardware store to buy hamburger, either.
And the exotic locales have lost none of their appeal. One quibble would be the Spanish scenes, where Jose Greco's Flamenco routine and the overly long subsequent bullfight sequence impede the flow.
There is no question that the super-wide screen format of Todd-AO, which used a special fish-eye lens for the scenery shots, and which was shown on a special curved screen in the theaters, was essential for the travelogue atmosphere of the flick. To see it on a tv-sized screen degrades the movie's impact considerably. I had looked in vain for years for this to be broadcast or re-released in letterbox and I am happy to see TMC has done so as of August, '03 ! As predicted, the letterbox format, and the rejuvenated print, reinvigorates this nearly unique film, which I somewhat hesitantly venture to call a classic.