Unusual blend of action adventure and comedy: 4 typical white-collar Californians (led by Brolin), fed up with barely making it, head down to the jungles of South America to steal a cool $5 million out of the safe of a drug kingpin (Coburn). But, as they soon find out, and the audience is a step ahead of 'em, getting in was the easy part. Besides the drug lord, who has a police force on his side, the 4 buddies also contend with a gang of bandits (led by Quinn, ornery in that good-natured way). Lindsay Wagner, formerly the Bionic Woman, pops up as a weed-smokin' American trapped in a jail cell. And that's just the start of the fun.
This was completely ignored on release; I saw it back then in '81 and was puzzled why no one else did. It's even more baffling that not even a cult appreciation has surfaced in the past 20 years (and no quality DVD - drat!). The filmmakers managed to present the 4 guys out of their element as stumbling and with a loser mentality, but not stupid, so that you're on their side all the way, and you have to admire the daring - the gall, really - of what they're attempting. The whole point is to stop losing, to come out winners, and somehow or other, you feel they'll stumble their way there, eventually - maybe. The picture treads the line between slapstick comedy and real action: there are moments when one or more of the 4 are in serious danger. There are some fine chase scenes around the exotic wilderness and, in the gun battles, though hardly anyone gets hurt, it feels kind of lifelike (there ARE deaths), since most people miss in real life too, unless they're an expert marksman.
The performances are all great. Watch Coburn when first confronted by the 4 dudes. He's a master of his domain, serene in his power; who are (?) these 4 bozos tying me up in my own mansion, he thinks. You get the feeling throughout the film, this is the way it would really happen; no well-timed explosions, no clichéd formula for escape, just a rough-and-tumble forward momentum. There's a great scene which shows how it would go if you really tried to knock someone out in real life - it's not as easy as in the movies. And, there's no real mystery for me about the ending; the whole story depicted a rush of one step forward and two steps back. The end, which may not be the end, just leaves the viewers with a final question mark - are they about to take two steps back again? If this had been a big success like "Romancing the Stone," a sequel would have answered it. But we really don't need a sequel. Each viewer can make up the next scene for these guys in their own minds.
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