Raymond Chandler's detective Philip Marlowe once complained that Los Angeles had become "a big hard-boiled city with no more personality than a paper cup." The years have gone by, and now Terry (Jeff Bridges), a pro football player unjustly axed from the team, finds himself exposed to the city's dark side.
Jake (James Woods), a club owner, sends Terry to Mexico to find Jessie (Rachel Ward), his rich runaway girlfriend. Once he locates her in a primitive hideaway, they fall in love, but this troubled woman ditches him and goes back to Jake. Terry returns to Los Angeles to find himself in the middle of a network of corruption involving football gambling, politics, and big-time real estate.
Against All Odds is a reworking of a 1947 film noir titled Out of the Past. Taylor Hackford has done an excellent job directing this highly atmospheric portrait of skullduggery and graft in the "city of angels." Jeff Bridges plays Terry with just the right mix of independence and anger. He is the only character in the story with an ounce of integrity. His affair with Jessie is doomed from the start love has no place in this realm of hustlers. Her mother (Jane Greer), owner of the pro football team that released Terry, and Ben Caxton (Richard Widemark), an amoral lawyer, move people around like pawns on a chessboard. Collecting dirt on individuals is the pastime of these wheeler-dealers.
The only flaw in this intriguing drama, which bears a slight resemblance to Chinatown, is the finale. It tries to leave us with the impression that Terry triumphs in the end by leaving the city for a new life on a Florida football team. No way; he's a terminal man in light of all that has gone before.