A thriller utterly lacking in suspense, THE WRONG MAN charts the adventures of a young American who goes south through Mexico after he becomes the primary suspect in a murder he did not commit.
Alex Walker (Kevin Anderson) stops in a bar when his ship arrives at a port of call, and has his wallet stolen by a seedy American (Robert Harper). Alex chases after the man, and finds him dying from a bullet wound. Fleeing from the site, Alex hides overnight in a car which turns out to belong to
an American couple, Philip Mills (John Lithgow) and his wife Missy (Rosanna Arquette). They offer Alex a ride out of town.
While two Mexican cops, Captain Diaz (Jorge Cervera, Jr.) and his assistant, Ortega (Ernesto LaGuardia), search for the murderer, the Mills and Alex form a friendship based on desperation and mistrust. Alex and Missy flirt, and Alex and Philip interrogate each other for information. Alex tries to
reboard his ship but fails when he encounters police. He hides once again in the Mills' car. Subsequently, their old convertible breaks down, so the trio takes a bus. After surviving a traffic accident, they take refuge in a hotel.
At the hotel, tension mounts. Alex discovers Philip knew the murdered American, Missy decides to go away with Alex, and Philip agrees to see them off at the train station. However the police catch up with them at the station as the train loads and departs. Philip is shot and killed. Missy decides
on the platform to remain with Philip, ends up comforting him as he dies, and Alex leaves alone.
Not one of the Americans is quite who he appears to be. Alex, Philip, and Missy are either humiliated or have something to hide, and are cautious about what they reveal for fear others will hurt or abandon them. Missy invents a splendid southern childhood, Alex claims he is a sailor and speaks
vaguely of events from which he "had to go," and Mills, who is a smuggler, lies about his activities.
The drama rests entirely with these unlikely companions drawn together in desperation. There is little tension between the Americans and the Mexican police. Overall, however, the film lacks any sort of tension, and the characters and their relationships are not developed or interesting enough to
carry the film.(Violence, extensive nudity, sexual situations, profanity.)
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