by Natasha Theobald
I can't believe I had considered myself a Jeff Bridges fan when I had never seen this movie. Made when a nice tan looked healthy, he sure does look healthy, and hot - really hot. Luckily, the film has a love story portion set for some time in a beautiful island paradise. So, we see Jeff sans clothes for a good amount of time. Ahh. In case that doesn't sufficiently intrigue you, there also is a plot line full of corruption, deviance, money, and power to whet your appetite. And, it almost works, except when it doesn't.Terry Brogan (Jeff Bridges) is a professional football player trying to return after a shoulder injury. Team politics prevail, though, and he is dumped. He is then contacted by Jake Wise (James Woods), a shady character with whom he had some previous bad dealings. Jake is a little peevish, because his girlfriend Jessie (Rachel Ward), also the daughter of the team owners for whom Brogan played, stabbed him and ran off, leaving him limping and more than a little hurt. With no football to play, Brogan agrees to find the girl, but, wouldn't you know, when he does find her, he thinks he might like to keep her for himself. They frolic and play in the sun until Jake sends someone else to check things out. Things quickly get out of hand, and the lovers find themselves with a body and a fight which seems like it can't be won in their future. Can they ever run far enough to escape?
"You've heard the song, now see the movie."
The love triangle part of the story is good. Bridges and Ward have good chemistry, as do Bridges and Woods. People are naked, spit is swapped; things get pretty steamy south of the border. The film stumbles somewhat, however, when it becomes more of a crime drama. All of a sudden, Brogan is a man for hire (via blackmail, but it still counts), on the loose, fighting for his life. The premise is stretched beyond believability with twists and turns, advantages gained and lost. The heart of the matter gets lost in the chase a bit, though we still have lingering memories of the good times on the beach.
Bridges is awe-inspiring as athlete, wounded man, man done wrong, man who has done wrong, etc. The character has some baggage, and Bridges carries it with triumph. Ward has never been my favorite actress, but she is quite beautiful here. Her interactions with Bridges are the best thing about the movie, though his character's feelings for hers are easier to trace. Woods plays the slimier guy with aplomb, bantering and battering those who cross his path. The character becomes almost sympathetic at some points, which is great credit to the actor behind his mostly irredeemable veneer. Alex Karras (Webster's dad!) plays an interesting part as coach and mentor to Brogan.Though the story flails in parts, the film still may prove worth a look for fans of Jeff Bridges' work. He is never less than fascinating to watch, and that continues to hold true here. Tune in for the love story, stick around to see how it all works out.
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originally posted: 03/23/04 10:48:56