Ex-football star Terry Brogan is hired by dubious bookie Jake Wise to go in search of his absconded girlfriend Jessie Wyler. Travelling into Mexico, he not only finds her but falls for her, but it becomes increasingly unclear just who is manipulating who.
Any film that contests to belonging to that fabled cinematic genus of knotted intrigue and cold hearted betrayal called noir, and yet still has Phil Collins croon a bloated love song over the credits may have got its wires crossed. Taylor Hackford was fresh off a massive hit with An Office And A Gentleman and endeavoured to imbue something of its overblown romantic spirit into a long-desired chance to remake a 1947 noir hit called Out Of The Past, resplendent with old-fashioned beefcake machismo in Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas. The strange concoction he ends up with, proud with an ‘80s sheen of macho aesthetic (Jeff Bridges and James Woods), could be unique — if nonsensical – high concept noir.
Rachel Ward was hot off The Thorn Birds mini-series, brown-eyes the size of beach balls, she slipped about with a lost-girl allure, but this wiry bundle of nerve-ends hardly embodies the forbidding history of supple temptresses the genre holds so dear. The men in her life do better. Bridges carries a gloomy insouciance of the fallen idol as the PI betraying his paymaster for his quarry, and possibly being played by both. Woods, the best actor in the vicinity, has the decency to suggest there is more to his crooked bookie than piqued horniness, you do get a sense he is wrestling with genuine emotions.
The film really has very little to do with the original, its high-gloss veneer coupled with a pumped sound-track, idealised steamy sex and car chases in flashy motors provides less a sense of a world stripped of meaning than a triplet of over-privileged, self-serving brats having a long-distance tiff. Jane Greer, who played the centre of the 1947 triangle, pops up as Jessie’s cynical mother to add a touch of credibility, but the cause is lost. This is about as noir as Pete’s Dragon, best to accept its superficiality as a boon —Hackford, at least, gives it a slick exterior — and enjoy it is a vacuous thriller and extended Phil Collins video.
A tired and tiresome remake that would rather convolute itself than re-invent itself.
Reviewed by Ian Nathan