Van Damme Takes on Old Development
I don't know what it is but there is something about "Nowhere to Run" which isn't half bad, well when you compare it to other Jean-Claude Van Damme movies. Yet when you break it down the storyline has been lifted from the western genre, the action runs to a typical Van Damme formula, there is some sexy scenes and nudity typical of these sorts of movies and basically it is nothing more than cliche. Yet director Robert Harmon has delivered an exciting action movie with atmosphere and some spectacular moments of drama.
After escaping from a prison bus Sam Gillen (Jean-Claude Van Damme - A.W.O.L.) finds a quiet space in some woods to camp out but the land belongs to single mum Clydie Anderson (Rosanna Arquette - In the Deep Woods) who is having problems with a nearby company trying to develop the area and need her land. When one night Sam saves Clydie and her children from some heavies trying to scare her off she asks him to move in to the barn and he becomes embroiled in the drama as the evil businessman steps up the pressure on Clydie.
So as I mentioned right at the start the storyline to "Nowhere to Run" has been lifted directly from the western genre as we have the evil businessman, in this case Franklin Hale played by Joss Ackland, who with his heavies is trying to frighten the farmers of their land. And we also have are good guy, are man of mystery, Sam who having escaped from a prison bus helps defend Clydie and the other farmers and who seems to know bit about the law. And just for good measure we have a touch of "Shane" where Clydie's son bonds with Sam and doesn't want him to go. It is just a contemporary adaptation of some old western favourites but it is a solid basis for a variety of things.
That variety of things is again nothing more than cliche as it wasn't unusual for action movies from the first half of the 90s to have an erotic side so with nudity and romance which "Nowhere to Run" ticks that box. It also ticks the action box with plenty of typical scenes of Van Damme kicking some butt, often multiple bad guy butts. But all of this whilst typical is entertaining as neither ever dominate the movie with instead the story and characters taking preference. Although to be honest the various characters are nothing special but Van Damme and Rosanna Arquette play their parts sensitively rather than tongue in cheek.
But the thing about "Nowhere to Run" is that director Robert Harmon has set out not just to knock out another action movie but to make something with style. And he achieves that with some great cinematography, some great drama and more importantly he creates atmosphere. It makes "Nowhere to Run" an exciting movie because rather than just action there is danger, big danger but not always outrageous danger.
What this all boils down to is that "Nowhere to Run" is not only a good movie it is easily one of Jean-Claude Van Damme's best. But it is good thanks to director Robert Harmon who has created a movie rather than just another action movie.