|No Way Back (1996)|
|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Monday, 29 June 2009|
The plot of the film is a complete joke. The audience is not privileged to any more information than the actors are. That is not the issue. The issue is that the audience is able to figure out the entire film from about five minutes into the film, yet the actors take wrongs turns from beginning to end.
In the opening of the film a gang is beating someone in a cardboard box to death. In the very next scene, FBI agent Zack Grant (Russell Crowe) sends a rookie agent, Seiko (Kelly Hu) into the nest of gang members in order to plant a device and get information. Instead, Seiko tosses the device and guns down all seven gang members. It was entirely too simple to see this one coming. Immediately we know there is a connection between Seiko and the man that was killed at the beginning. If the FBI would just do its routine procedure, they would have found out that Seiko's father was just killed by the same gang members that she gunned down. Oops, film over.
Instead, Grant somehow gets introduced to a phone bill that indicates Seiko made a phone call to New York before she went on a killing spree. Grant assumes that this is the person that forced Seiko to kill, because there is no way she would have done it on her own. It doesn't take much longer for us to put two and two together and figure out that this New York man is Seiko's brother. Sorry, but it's not a spoiler. This is another film in which a toddler could figure out within moments.
Once Grant captures Yuji, he is contacted by Frank Serlano, the father of the gang leader who was murdered by Seiko. He has kidnapped Grant's son, whom Grant left all alone while he went to New York. Like that would happen. Frank buys into the idea that Grant has captured the man responsible for his son's death, and wants Yuji delivered to him or he will kill Grant's son. So, instead of just bringing Yuji into FBI custody and figuring out how to get his son back, Grant becomes one of FBI's most wanted. Yeah, like that makes things easier.
Along the way, Grant has altercations with an airline stewardess, Mary. Mary is played by a grown up "Supergirl," Helen Slater. She gets stuck joining this joyride when Yuji hijacks the flight they are on. The rest of the film deals with delays and issues with getting Yuji back to Frank and rescue Grant's son. The ending is rather anti climatic.
It is hard to find a positive about this film. Kelly Hu's brief appearance is pleasing, but that is about it. The characters are either underdeveloped or overdeveloped. Helen Slater's character is annoying and the writers feel the need to impress that upon us. Russell Crowe's character is supposed to be deep and mysterious, but just ends up being boring.
The video quality is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and a 1080p, MPEG-4 AVC encode. The transfer is average. I can't imagine that a film of this stature can look any better. However, the print is extremely dirty. There is a large amount of film grain and dust and dirt. The black levels are average, but swallow much of the detail of the image. Details are again average. Textures seem flat, as does the entire image. However, the colors are vibrant and fleshtones are more or less accurate. On the plus side, there is no artifacting in the image. Edge enhancement is extremely minimal. There is some minor banding in the sky. Contrast is slightly oversaturated, but not distracting. I imagine that this is a suitable upgrade from the standard DVD.
The audio is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1. The original audio presentation was in a format known as Ultra Stereo. The studio has made an effort to create a discrete 5.1 mix for this film, but it falls short. The surround channels are rarely used. Some music is bled into the surround channels. The LFE channel is shallow and seems disconnected from the rest of the audio. The frequency response remains in the midrange. The audio track lacks that crispness in the high frequencies. Dialogue is clear. Sometimes the English as a second language from a few of the actors becomes difficult to follow. Overall, the mix is stable, but is highly forgettable.
As with the simultaneously released, "Striking Distance," "No Way Back" does not come with any special features. The disc is BD-Live enabled. There are some promo trailers at the beginning of the disc as well. I don't really count either of these are bonus materials.
"No Way Back" is pedestrian. It doesn't have much to offer in the way of entertainment value. The video and audio quality is slightly above average. In the end I can't recommend this movie.