Film Scouts Reviews

"Without Limits"

by Jason Gorber

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The latest film by CHINATOWN scribe Robert Towne, Without Limits is
the second film in as many years about the American track runner Steve
Prefontaine. It is perhaps no surprise that the press conference for
the film was dominated by questions for one of the film's producers,
Tom Cruise.

Billy Crudup ('cruh-dup', not 'croo-dup' as he kept insisting) plays
Prefontaine through the years of his high school record-breaking
success to his eventual drunken automotive death. His dramatic foil
comes in the form of his coach, played well by Donald Sutherland. The
dynamic between the two fluctuates between hard-assed coach and
student to tallented protegé and fan. Their relationship is the
strongest one in the film, and it saves the picture from being just
another flick about a guy who can jog, yet lost at the '72 Olympics to
some nameless foreigners.

The irony, of course, is that 5 or 10 years ago Cruise himself
(pronounced 'cruhz', as he said at the press conference) would have
played the title role. He would not have done better then Crudup, who
is actually quite convincing and engaging as the troubled runner. The
movie is severely hampered, however, by the poorly written and
performed female lead. Overall, in fact, the diologue was rarely
fresh, and often amounted to parables and clichés of the genre. I
expected more from a director who also wrote the words.

In the end, this film is a well acted DAYS OF THUNDER, substituting
cars for jogging shoes (Nike waffle-iron shoes, no less!) and steamy
sex scenes for steamy foreplay scenes that end up in guilt ridden
conversations about the beauty of abstinence. If, as Prefontaine
says, that running is art, then this film has run an adequate race,
never jostling out from the middle of the pack, courageously reaching
for the lead, but not collapsing in a pathetic lump in the back of the
pack either.

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