A movie like Nowhere to Run tests the dedication I have to this column, at least in terms of being comprehensive in my approach. I want to watch and review all of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s films, and that means taking the good with the mediocre with the bad.
Nowhere to Run, unfortunately, ranks on the lower side of bad. So bad that I’ve put off writing this for more than a month. So bad I can’t really even be snarky about it. There’s just nothing there to really point and laugh at. It’s just bland. As a follow-up to Van Damme’s first true blockbuster it couldn’t be worse and it couldn’t be more different.
You’d think that a story involving an escaped convict (Van Damme) who finds himself defending a widow (Rosanna Arquette) and her two children against some greedy land developers would lead to some great JCVD versus generic henchman fights at least, but his Sam Gillen is a mildly competent fist fighter at best. We get a decent motorcycle chase about two-thirds of the way through, but it feels oddly tacked on. There is nothing here that you have come to know, love or expect from a good JCVD movie at this point in his career.
I guess Van Damme was looking to flex his dramatic muscles after Universal Soldier, but the script (which includes a “story by” credit for Return of the Jedi director Richard Marquand, of all people) just isn’t built around his strengths. Actually, it’s not really built around anyone’s strengths. This thing feels like it’s bordering on a Lifetime drama at times. Not even Van Damme’s particular charms could save it.
Basically, my point is that you should not believe the lies on the back and front of the DVD case, the ones that tout the film as being “The best Van Damme movie ever!” and having “More Van Damme action than you’ve ever seen!” Nowhere to Run is the precise opposite of those quotes.
But whatever. Van Damme’s career is about to hit overdrive (for a little while, at least), and it all starts with his next film, which just so happens to be John Woo’s American debut: Hard Target.
Van Dammage Report Statistics for Nowhere to Run:
Number of splits: 0
Number of split kicks: 0
Reason for being European: French Canadian from Quebec
Best line: N/A
Previously on the Van Dammage Report:
Universal Soldier, Double Impact, Death Warrant, Lionheart, Kickboxer, Cyborg, Bloodsport.