Against All Odds (1984)

Movie Title: Against All Odds

Year Released: 1984

Rated: R

Runtime: 2h 8min

Genre: Action, Adventure, Crime, Drama, Romance, Thriller

Director: Taylor Hackford

Writer: Eric Hughes and Daniel Mainwaring

Starring: Rachel Ward, Jeff Bridges, James Woods, Alex Karras, Jane Greer, Richard Widmark, Dorian Harewood, Swoosie Kurtz, Saul Rubinek, Pat Corley, Bill McKinney

Review: A low level gangster (James Woods) hires an ex-football player (Jeff Bridges) to find his girlfriend (Rachel Ward). When he finds her they fall in love. But soon love turns to obsession, betrayal, and murder.

This '80s remake of noir classic Out of the Past, starring Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas, features Jeff Bridges as a ex-football player turned amateur detective on the trail of the beautiful Jessie Wyler, played by Rachel Ward. I like just about everything Jeff Bridges does, but here it seems to me that he's been miscast. I don't really believe his character ever player professional football, but once that aspect of his character is cast aside and the plot starts up he's great. James Woods is perfect here as the shady Jake Wise and he really seems dangerous and is more of a threat than a friend to Bridges' Terry Brogan. But it's Rachel Ward that steals the movie. She's the perfect femme fatale without really revealing where her loyalties truly lie. She's sexy and mysterious, and it's not hard to see why both Bridges and Woods' characters fall in love with her.

The movie has three distinct acts to it, establishing Jeff Bridges' character, finding and falling for Jessie, and the mystery of Jake Wise and Jessie's family, are all entertaining, but for some reason they don't seem to gel like you hope they would. The romance is steamy, the characters are flawed, and you get a great Phil Collins song over the end credits - "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)"... what's not to like?

I think that Against All Odds would have been a bit better if it were made in the '70s. It seems like a '70s movie that was just made a decade too late. Maybe that's why it seems a little odd to me. For what it's worth, Against All Odds is worth a watch for its trio of talent leads, the memorable side characters, beautiful locations and photography, and for the noir-mystery-femme fatale stuff. I love all of that stuff.

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: James Woods and Jeff Bridges both loved working with Richard Widmark, and fondly remembered the late actor's love of pancakes. He used to have a plate waiting for him while shooting a scene, and Woods and Bridges would often hide it. Widmark refused to go back to shooting before the cakes had been recovered.


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