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Nowhere to Run/B,A-

Columbia-Tristar/1993/94m/ANA,WS 1.85,PS 1.33

     An escaped prisoner wanders into a dispute between a land developer and the remaining families still holding out against selling their farms. The strong, silent guy makes friends with a little boy and is given shelter by the family. When push comes to shove, the stranger protects the family and falls into the arms of the widowed mother. The elements are classical western. Think Shane and the homesteaders against the ranchers. Nowhere to Run may not have the same pedigree as Shane, but it liberally helps itself to some of its magic. And it’s not averse to adding a touch of The Great Escape as well. When it stays within the bounds of simple confrontation, it plays best. The screenwriters can’t resist throwing some lame one-liners into play, but they are few and far between. Some of the fights may be overstaged compared to Shane or its equivalent, but Shane was made for audiences of a different time and the filmmakers here seem to want to give the audience what it comes to expect from the typical action genre.
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Penal conversation.©Columbia-Tristar

     Jean-Claude Van Damme is Sam, the taciturn former thief who sees his chance for redemption and a new life. Taciturn cahracters limit the number of lines Van Damme has to deliver, emphasizing his strong screen presence, and indeed, Van Damme seems more like a mortal in his fights in Nowhere to Run. Kieran Culkin, the MacCauley sibling, is precocious as Mookie, who views Sam as a father figure. You might want to check out Culkin’s current starring turn in The Mighty, a very fine movie fantasy from director Peter Chelsom. Rossana Arquette does good work as the lady of the house, and Ted Levine tires to act tough in the role of the hired thug. He’s no Jack Palance, that’s for sure, but he does creepy well as he proved in Silence of the Lambs.
     Production values are okay, but the scope of the film is wisely limited. Direction by Robert Harmon is crisp. Fight scenes are edited with no great flare. The script has its holes: whatever happened to the other family the developer tries to run out of town? Nowhere to Run does have a Mark Isham score and that seems to prove a benefit to every film the composer works on.
     Will I ever tire of singing the praises of Columbia-Tristar’s superlative DVD transfers? I hope not. The level of consistency brought to the DVD table by this team is truly admirable. Nowhere to Run is another example of the company’s commitment to quality. The disc is sharp without being edgy. The anamorphic transfer displays extraordinary film-like images. The color levels are richly saturated, yet the skin tones have a broad and accurate range. Night sequences are outstanding, daylight situations exhibit no grain in the blue skies. The Dolby Digital 2-channel sound does an effective job of creating a complimentary audio environment. The opening is slightly high in output levels. There’s ample of bass to showcase some dynamite blasting and the Isham musical is responsive. No, it’s not Shane, but it’s damn good Van Damme.