Combining the traditional whodunit with the Vietnam film subgenre, OFF LIMITS might have been an interesting reflection on the American presence in Southeast Asia; instead, it's a formula murder mystery, violent but pedestrian. Set in Saigon in 1968, the picture stars Willem Dafoe and
Gregory Hines as Buck McGriff and Albaby Perkins, plainclothes investigators with the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Military Police. Ugly Americans who care little for Vietnam or its people, the two are assigned to solve the murders of six Vietnamese prostitutes with Amerasian
children. Reporting to their immediate superior, Dix (Fred Ward), they hunt the killer--suspected to be a high-ranking US military man. Along the way they encounter antagonistic Vietnamese police chief Lime Green (Kay Tong Lim); beautiful French nun Nicole (Amanda Pays); and Colonel Armstrong
(Scott Glenn), whose kinky wanderings through Saigon incriminate him. Leaving a predictable trail of bodies behind them and decoyed by the usual red herrings, the sleuths finally get their man. Slickly directed by Christopher Crowe, OFF LIMITS presents Saigon (actually Bangkok) as a nighttime
vision hung ubiquitously with neon lights in a cliched visual style. The daytime scenes aren't much better, though Crowe does pack tension into a confrontation between the CID men and a crowd of hostile Vietnamese--until a US helicopter suddenly (and silently) appears in the middle of downtown
Saigon to rescue the Americans. The film is full of such preposterous moments; however, Hines is terrific as the high-strung Perkins, and Ward and Glenn are also fine. PLATOON veteran Dafoe, on the other hand, seems more intent on getting the hell out of Southeast Asia than on giving a convincing
performance. OFF LIMITS' view of the US presence in Vietnam as irredeemably corrupt lends some interest, but the theme is lost in the machinations of the unsatisfying plot.
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- Released: 1988
- Rating: R
- Review: Combining the traditional whodunit with the Vietnam film subgenre, OFF LIMITS might have been an interesting reflection on the American presence in Southeast Asia; instead, it's a formula murder mystery, violent but pedestrian. Set in Saigon in 1968, the p… (more)