Thursday, July 5, 2018

Movies That Suck (?) Against All Odds

Image result for against all odds movie

Movies That Suck is a feature where I watch a bad movie and share my reactions to it in real time. Sort of like live tweeting without the tweeting. I watch it so you don't have to! This will be spoilery I guess by definition but since you probably won't want to watch these anyway it probably won't matter? But heads up anyways.  

This week is Against All Odds. An 80's movie (and man, does it show)- but a young Jeff Bridges and James Woods, and Rachel Ward as a mysterious femme fatale? Not bad. I actually have mixed feelings about Bridges, but Woods is always excellent, and he's playing to his strength here as a sleazy nightclub owner who hires Bridges' character to find his missing girlfriend. Of course that sets off a whole chain of events... so let's jump in, shall we?  

We start off with Terry Brogan (Bridges) in Cozumel, wandering around and asking the locals if they've seen Jessie Wyler (Ward). Terry is a pro football player who was just cut from the team, thanks to a shoulder injury, and the reason he's in Cozumel is because he needs money. His old buddy and sleazeball Jake Wise (Woods) offers him thirty thousand dollars to find Jessie, who he says attacked him and ran off with his money. Or some of it. Oh, and she's the daughter of the Outlaws' owner- the Outlaws being the team that just cut Terry. 

So we flashback a bit to Terry trying to get his lawyer, Steve Kirsch, to help him, but that doesn't go well, as Kirsch works for a law firm that is tied to the Wyler family. And Ben Caxton (Richard Widmark) is a senior partner and business associate (and perhaps more?) to Mrs. Wyler, who owns the Outlaws. Such a tangled web! So Kirsch is like fuck you to Terry, but Terry at least makes the acquaintance of Edie, the law firm secretary who is a big fan. She fills him in that Caxton is trying to get a zoning variance on a canyon where Mrs. Wyler wants to build houses- she's more interested in real estate than being a football owner. 

We also meet Tommy, another sleazeball who works for Jake, and Tommy tells Terry that Jake was stabbed recently- by Jessie.  

Oh, and Kirsch is pretty much slime. So Terry goes to the beach to meet Jake, who is taking action on a beach volleyball game, and they spar a little verbally- clearly they go way back, and not necessarily in a good way. Jake is a gambler and bookie and Terry wants nothing to do with him, but agrees to go to the Palace, Jake's club, to discuss further. But first they have to get there the old way.  

So now that they got that out of their system, we learn that Jake has a serious thing for Jessie, and wants Terry to find her. Or... he might use what he has on Terry? What might that be? Well I'm guessing Terry had a little "action" of his own sometime in the past, so with that blackmail hanging over his head, off to Mexico he goes. And... he finds Jessie, but not before he visits Mrs. Wyler and finds out she's drawing from her trust- hence how he knows she's in Cozumel. Oh and Mrs. Wyler offers to double whatever Jake is paying Terry- she doesn't want her daughter anywhere near that sleazeball. When Terry demurs she has him thrown out. Terry doesn't know when to quit though, and goes after Steve Kirsch at the Wyler Canyon gala, causing him to get thrown out some more.  

So back to Cozumel we go, where Terry is asking around about Jessie and finds her at a market buying mangos. She blows him off though- she doesn't like football players. Later he sees her take the ferry to Tulum, and follows her there, where they don't exactly get along. Or do they? I guess we're supposed to feel sexual tension here? I love the eerie music, by the way, and the way the guitar strings make you almost feel like you're in sun- drenched Cozumel. 

After Terry tells her to eff off she comes to his place, wanting to know if he's told people where to find her. He's planning  on leaving, but she tells him not to leave without saying goodbye. Right. 

She has a nice place, right on the water. Beautiful. A few steps and you're right on the beach. They drink a little tequila and Jake comes up, of course. Why was she with Jake, asks Terry.  

"I liked that my being with him made a lot of people crazy."

Turns out Jake helped her get off drugs, and once she did she didn't need Jake anymore. He's obsessed with her though, and said she'd have to kill him to leave him. No wonder she left! Between her mom and Jake, I think I'd go to Cozumel too. Anyway they soon kiss, and dive in the crystal clear waters, and you know, get intimate, and several weeks go by. Is Terry falling for Jessie? Dude, it's more like how hard is he falling for Jessie? Ah, paradise- but it can't last, can it? Jake's getting impatient and Terry says they gotta leave, cover their tracks. They're like fugitives now. And we learn what Jake has on Terry- he shaved points in a game. Tsk.   

They leave for Chichen Itza, but alas things aren't the same after Terry leaves to throw Jake off the scent. They fight, then make love in a sweat house, but Sully shows up- Terry's old friend from the team. He catches them in the act, and Jessie says he works for Jake. Shit. Sully wants to take her back to Jake, so of course they fight, and in the confusion Sully ends up shot. Terry dumps him in a lake but in the meantime Jessie takes off, and... that is that. 

Back to L.A. we go, and Terry visits Jake to tell him to piss off, but... Jessie is there. Just back from a swim, as it happens. And Terry is of course gobsmacked. She came back to Jake??? Yuppers. She tells him she still loves him, and to finish things with Jake so he's free- Jake has another job he wants Terry to do. You know, I like Jessie in this, to an extent, but her telling Terry to "work" with Jake again seems like, um, bad life advice? At any rate Jake's having a party at the Palace and Terry's invited- and while there he sees some monkey business going on between Jake and Soames, the planning commissioner who opposes the Wyler Canyon deal. Hmm... apparently the planning commissioner has a gambling problem as well? 

Oh and Terry runs into Kirsch, his former lawyer. Jake deliberately has them seated at the same table, and when Kirsch complains to Tommy (remember him?) he is ignored and humiliated in front of his girlfriend with the big 80's hair. You know it's the little touches like this that make this movie so good. Anyway Jake wants Terry to break into Kirsch's office and retrieve files that implicate everyone in Jake's little gambling operation. Files that include Terry! I love this line- Jake has all the best lines in this one. 

"It's a little dirty, but not so dirty you won't sleep nights." 

Cue the funky guitar twanging as Terry sneaks into Kirsch's office- the tension is supposed to be high here. He really shouldn't have gone there. Kirsch has files all right, and when he opens his file the only thing in there is a note that says Fuck you Terry. Not good. Oh, and by the way? Kirsch is dead in his office bathroom. Time to leave, Terry. But he doesn't and some security guy shows up and tells him "This is the rest of what Jake owes you." They fight of course and Terry gets away, but I guess we know where he really stands with Jake now, huh? 

Terry goes to find Edie (remember her?) at the bar where she apparently spends a lot of time, and tells her about Kirsch. She's pretty drunk, and kinda funny, but she agrees to help after he mentions they'll just kill her too. So back to the office they go, to find whatever explosive details Kirsch had on all the assholes in this movie. That goes about as well as you'd expect. Security jerk is there and this time he has a Doberman! Edie tries to talk her way past but of course Terry and the guy have to throw down again, and Edie saves the day by stabbing the guy in the hand when he tries to release the dog. Go Edie! 

Meanwhile Jessie goes to Caxton for help and tells him everything about Jake, not realizing that he was Jake's puppet master all along. Way to go, Jessie. Caxton shows up at Jake's club just as Jake and Tommy are arguing about what to do about Terry. Terry calls and tells Caxton about all the goodies he found in Kirsch's safe, and they agree to meet at Wyler Canyon. On the way there we have this awesome scene in the car where Caxton explains to Jessie how he has to work with some very strange people- "like that asshole next to you" (referring to Jake)- to make her mother happy, since she can't sway everyone with just campaign contributions. Ah, the corruption. And Tommy turns on Jake to stay in Caxton's good graces. 

So... Wyler Canyon. As usual Terry is a doofus and Jake gets the drop on him, after he and Caxton bargain a bit. Jake holds a gun to Jessie's head, forcing Terry to put his down, and Jake's about to blow Terry away when he gets shot... by Jessie! She's had it with Jake, y'all. Problem solved. But it's a bittersweet end as Caxton has to make Jessie's killing Jake go away, so they have to do things his way. Kind of a gutsy but weird ending- no HEA but maybe down the road? Terry meanwhile gets picked up by another team, so his life is back on track, and when Caxton says he's out of Jessie's life, he replies that that's up to her. So the corrupt old guy wins and things get attributed to Jake that would have freaked even him out, as Terry observes. 

So... the verdict? A pretty good movie, and I understand this is a remake of an older noir film called Out of the Past from 1947, with Jane Greer from that movie appearing in this one as Jessie's mother. I like this movie a lot, and Rachel Ward has a good turn as Jessie, although she almost disappears from the last third of the movie. The scenes in Mexico are amazing and all in all this one's a winner.   


  1. I'm a massive fan of James Woods-such a great character actor but I didn't like this film at all!

  2. So ok, I'll go ahead and admit it. I saw this movie twice back in the day, mostly because I was hooked on the song by Phil Collins, and Jeff Bridges as the star. The scenery was pretty cool too, but I still can't get the song out of my head.(lol) Hugs...RO

  3. I don't think I've ever seen this, but now I'm sort of interested!

  4. Oh my goodness, that poster definitely made me think the movie probably sucked! XD This actually sounds pretty good though and I may have to check it out!

  5. OMG what a convoluted plot. James Woods always plays such a good bad guy. You totally buy the sleazy act. I never saw this one back in the 80’s but I sure loved the theme song.

  6. I have never seen this movie but it seems like something that I wouldn't be interested in. Great review still!

    Elle Inked @ Keep on Reading

  7. I actually have not seen this one that cover for it tho o.o jeesh...

  8. Love those eighties hair style and the fashion. I don’t remember this one at all. I think it is a good thing I skipped it then.

  9. So I remember this one because I really wanted to see it, but it was rated R and my parents were very strict so no dice. Enjoyed your recap! I don't like open endings so I would've been very disappointed by this one. Glad to have it all run down for me by you instead! Great post, Greg! :)

  10. It has been ages since I've seen this one. I don't remember much about the movie itself, but I remember the Phil Collins song was super popular when I was in middle and high school, lol.

  11. "Cue the funky guitar twanging" I can totally imagine the cheesiness with that. That's what's great about 80s movies. I haven't seen this movie (not sure if I want to) but I do like Bridges.

  12. This is... wow. A lot of stuff going on haha. The Mexico stuff sounds fun. But it also sounds a bit convoluted? I am glad you liked it though! I must say, other than Jeff Bridges, I don't know who any of these people are, so this movie makes me feel either moderately youthful or not in the know, and I haven't decided which yet hah.

  13. Ugh, I can't stand James Woods. He is so gross and sleazy and yuck. I do not even remember this movie, probably a good thing based on literally everything you wrote!

  14. My sister loved this movie and she lived with me at the time and I wouldn't let her watch it when I was home because, ugh. XD

  15. I only vaguely remember seeing this when it came out in theaters and I felt so grown up watching it because it seemed so mature (for my age) at the time lol But I think I hated it??

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

  16. I think I missed this one in the 80's and I am kind of glad about that :)

  17. Great feature today, Greg. It's been ages since I watched this and I enjoyed it too. I agree, James Woods nailed his character. He's such a great actor and this role was made for him.

  18. Wow, I forgot all about this movie. But ugh, James Woods.

  19. This does look pretty fun but it may be the most 80s looking movie I've ever seen! The wardrobe might just be my favorite part.

  20. I don't remember this film, but the Phil Collins song was everywhere for a while wasn't it!