Without Limts

Bomb Rating: 

If Robert Towne, who penned "Chinatown," is such a screenwriting genius, somebody explain to me why this film ends twice.

If Robert Towne, who penned "Chinatown," is such a screenwriting genius, somebody explain to me why this film ends twice. This is the story of American distance runner Steve Prefontaine (Billy Crudup). Everybody should know that "Pre," as he was called, died in a car crash in 1975 because there's already been one film about this guy this year.

However, in Towne's version, which he wrote and directed, we get to witness the service and eulogy as read by Prefontaine's coach at the University of Oregon, Bill Bowerman (Donald Sutherland), the man who founded Nike. By most measures, the film is now over, but Towne tacks on another five or ten minutes so you can take an opportunity to reflect on Prefontaine's thrilling life -- or, if you prefer, take an opportunity to try and see if you can wing a Jujube 50 rows or so into the theater's only other occupant.

Actually, the most important turn the film takes occurs at the 1972 Munich Olympics when Prefontaine gets boxed in during the 5,000 meters and finishes a disappointing fourth. Unfortunately for the structure of the screenplay, this occurs about 2/3 of the way through the film, leaving Towne to muddle through an excruciatingly dull denouement as we silently wish for Pre to hurry up and make the mistake of getting in his car.

Towne's film is no better or worse than the previous film on Prefontaine. Taken together, the only lasting message these films are likely to impart is that only in Hollywood can egos grow large enough to defy the notion that two films about Steve Prefontaine is at least one, if not two, too many.

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