The Film: Against All Odds, 1984

The Principals: Director: Taylor Hackford. Stars: Jeff Bridges, Rachel Ward, James Woods

The Premise:  Terry Brogan, an injury-riddled football player (Bridges), is dumped from his team, the copyright friendly L.A. Outlaws.   Desperate for cash, he winds up in the sleazy hands of Jake Wise (James Woods) and agrees to go look for Wise’s girlfriend, Jessie (Rachel Ward).  Wise is “mad” for the girl, even though she tried to stab him to death.  Brogan has a twinge of conscience about that bit of violence, and goes to chat with her adoptive family — who also happen to own the Outlaws, and who also happen to be looking for Jessie.  Brogan stands to benefit no matter who pays him the bounty.  Passively Dude-like, he ambles on down to Mexico to find her.  He  does.  Soon, they’re rolling around in the sand to a musical backdrop of steel drums and 1980s synth.  Naturally, their love causes all hell to break loose.  Wise sends goons after Brogan, Jessie goes back to Wise, and the film screeches to a halt for a performance by Kid Creole and the Coconuts. Everyone you met in the first half hour of the film is involved in Wise’s organized crime ring.    Brogan is woefully unprepared for all of this, especially the Kid Creole concerts.  He can’t even fight dudes as well as a football player should be able to.  And he just wants Jessie back, man.

Is It Good:  It’s mediocre. Wise’s criminal plots are too small and complicated to be memorable, and Woods turns in his usual performance. Ward, who was beautiful but liked pretending she was better than her scripts, does a lot of flat shouting and weeping.   Bridges is actually pretty damn good.  I can cheapen his performance by making Lebowski jokes, but he’s better than that. The scene where he cries when telling Jessie his dark professional secret is quite touching in that manly, athletic way.

Is It Worth A Look: Yes, purely for the Mexican scenery and the sex.  There’s sunsets, palm trees, pristine white beaches, tropical seas, and Mayan ruins.  (Considering the awful damage being done to the Gulf, you’ll probably
have to do with surf scenes like this for decades to come. Stock up now.) Bridges and Ward heave themselves against all of it. They even get it on in a Mayan sweat lodge, which
probably angers the ancient gods and brings James Woods against them.  

Random Anecdotes: Bridges based his character of Terry Brogan on the L.A. Raiders’ Bob Chandler, so if you know that Hall of Famer really well, maybe you’ll see echoes of him. And Phil Collins was nominated for an Oscar for the title song.

Cinematic SoulmatesBody Heat, and all their 80s neo-noir cousins.  It’s also a remake of the superior Out of the Past.