Sheer determination and iron will power animate the hearts and bodies of athletes who excel in their endeavors. Watching these men and women perform, we share in the giddy thrill of going all out. Academy Award winner Robert Towne directs this rousing film from a script he co-wrote with Kenny Moore. The focus is on the short but spectacular career of long-distance runner Steve Prefontaine who set all the records in his sport during the late 1960s and 1970s.
At the hub of this sports drama is the relationship between the gutsy athlete (Billy Crudup) and Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman (Donald Sutherland in a bravura performance). This crafty teacher comes up with various strategems designed to change Prefontaine's set-the-pace and control-the-race running style. Bowerman also throws a few darts at the young man's inflated ego. Their complex relationship is beautifully captured on the screen.
Similar to Towne's excellent Personal Best (1982), Without Limits offers plenty of interesting insights into the beauty, the poetry, the drama, and the science of athletic competition. Prefontaine says in the film, "Running is not about winning, it's about guts . . . to give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." This gung-ho spirit is what made Steve Prefontaine such a legendary figure in long-distance running.