In the oeuvre of Jean-Claude Van Damme, NOWHERE TO RUN is spectacularly generic. This 1993 actioner is akin to a made-for-TV movie and would pass as such were it not for a few moments of resilient nudity and a touch of violence. What makes this effort distinctive is that it features writing by Joe Eszterhas, who penned screenplays for BASIC INSTINCT, SHOWGIRLS and FLASHDANCE. NOWHERE TO RUN is nothing like the aforementioned.
Van Damme is Sam, a convict from Quebec serving time somewhere in the United States. He escapes custody and goes on the lam, where he winds up at a farmhouse owned by Clydie (Rosanna Arquette). She’s a widow with two kids (Kieran Culkin and Tiffany Taubman) and she’s got trouble in the form of a property developer (Joss Ackland) who wants her land. This leads to a few physical run-ins with Sam and some thugs, with the criminal’s real identity stirring up even more trouble.
NOWHERE TO RUN is disappointingly typical. It dawdles like a modern western, with Van Damme eschewing some of his more electrifying momentum in favour of less primitive confrontations. The fight scenes are forgettable, especially as we are to believe Ted Levine as a match for the kick-ass rebel who likes to bathe in the river. Van Damme’s Sam is heavy on the conversation here, which is a problem because Van Damme’s Sam isn’t too good at the conversation here.
NOWHERE TO RUN is too elusive for its own good. The movie has no guts. There is a swipe of salaciousness when Sam peeps on a stark-naked Clydie, plus a love scene suggests something more virile in the mix. But Eszterhas’ screenplay, also written by Les Bohem with story help by RETURN OF THE JEDI director Richard Marquand, is a blunted blade. The writer has all but disowned NOWHERE TO RUN. Van Damme, too, is dismissive of this whole affair and that, as you might imagine, is for the best.