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Without Limits

4.5 out of 5 stars 226 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The film follows the life of famous 1970s runner Steve Prefontaine from his youth days in Oregon to Oregon University where he worked with the legendary coach Bill Bowerman, later to Olympics in Munich and his early death at 24 in a car crash.



Since audiences are inclined to F/X spectacle, it was easy to understand the 1998 box-office battle between Armageddon and Deep Impact, which shared almost exactly the same premise. But two films about the now-obscure long-distance runner Steve Prefontaine? Without Limits and Prefontaine were in production at the same time, with the cheaper Prefontaine rushed into theaters in 1997 while Without Limits was held back until the fall of '98. As it turned out, neither movie scored a deep impact at the box office, but Without Limits is much more satisfying as a competent, heartfelt slice of sports history. Billy Crudup (a rising star who strongly resembles the film's producer, Tom Cruise, in both looks and intensity) plays Prefontaine, or "Pre," the mustachioed runner who blazed out of Coos Bay, Oregon, in the late 1960s. The movie grazes across the major events of Pre's career at the University of Oregon, where he blew away the competition and positioned himself as the leading American runner (and a charismatic hunk) going into the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich--that star-crossed competition at which Arab terrorists kidnapped and killed members of the Israeli team. Though the film suffers from some of the built-in problems of the true-life biopic, director Robert Towne (who earlier made a remarkable track-and-field picture, Personal Best) captures the texture of the athletes' world. Acting honors go to Donald Sutherland, turning in an emotional performance as coach Bill Bowerman; while tutoring Pre, Bowerman was tinkering with some waffle-soled running shoes, a hobby that later became a little company called Nike. --Robert Horton

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Billy Crudup, Donald Sutherland, Monica Potter, Jeremy Sisto, Matthew Lillard
  • Directors: Robert Towne
  • Writers: Robert Towne, Kenny Moore
  • Producers: Jonathan Sanger, Kenny Moore, Paula Wagner, Tom Cruise
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, Full Screen, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: February 16, 1999
  • Run Time: 117 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (226 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0790739291
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,270 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Without Limits" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John K. Reed on March 19, 2001
Format: DVD
as I have read others reviewers comments. This is a movie about life and the challenges we all face as family members, individuals, students, teachers, and members of society. It's about sacrifice and going the distance. It's about following your own heart in the face of opposition. And perhaps most importantly it's about philosophy. Or more accurately it's about the contrasting philosophies of the films two principals. Bill Bowerman (Donald Sutherland) and Steve Prefontaine (Billy Crudup). Each wants to win and each is a master at their own particular craft. But the conflict arises out of each one's definition about what winning really is. And there lies the essence of the story.
The film is just flat out entertaining. Particularly the olympic race in Munich is perfectly directed with both staged and actual footing in addtion to being paced so well that I as other reviewers have commented watch the race each time on the edge of my seat hoping for an outcome that I know isn't coming. Not to mention the numerous funny one liners in the film.
Crudup and Sutherland are outstanding as opposite sides of the same coin.
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Format: DVD
Hollywood has never done sports well. Their movies are usually either cloying, cliched kid flicks or sappy melodramas. "Without Limits" is neither of these. It's a fascinating, exhilarating look at a running legend.
Billy Crudup was superb as "Pre". Cool, cocky, with a running style that sent shivers through me. Donald Sutherland gives another first-rate performance as coach Bowerman. Compared to R. Lee Ermey's portrayal in the lesser movie "Prefontaine", watching Sutherland work was like eating filet mignon after beef jerky.
The highlight of the film for me was the '72 Munich race. Pure sustained tension. I've seen the film 4 times, I know the outcome, but I nevertheless hop out of my chair every time I see Pre/Crudup break from the pack. Excellent, too, how they deftly spliced in the actual footage.
Only two criticisms: the romance was hokey, and there was too much unnecessary fiction woven in (Pre gashed his foot running around a swimming pool, not while having sex upside down, for crying out loud).
But because of this movie, I learned that Pre wasn't just a flashy jock who died young. He was a true working class hero in a sport where there weren't many. He had his own running code, which he also applied in life: run all-out, ahead of the pack, all the time.
As a runner, "Without Limits" actually inspired me to actually chop seconds off my running times, which is not a bad testament. But I don't think one has to be a runner to like this movie.
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By A Customer on September 14, 2003
Format: DVD
It's been a few years since I first saw 'Prefontaine'. I'd seen it several times and I finally saw 'Without Limits' tonight.
I thought the acting in this movie could have been much better. The principle actors were decent, but it was a long drop off to the secondaries as far as acting talent. I felt Leto was more brash, cocky and arrogant. In comparison to Crudup, it made me feel Pre was this way on many occasions more out of fear or a need to be arrogant, as opposed to true belief in himself. More like a prima donna.
Given that these are movies and not documentaries, I really don't care about the small ones such as how close a race was, etc. But would like to get the truth on the the bigger issues such as personal relationships, how he hurt his foot (there either were witnesses, or there were not), and how directly he was involved in the fight against the AAU. I liked the added details in Munich and his life after Munich, showing his continued successes. These details were great from an informational perspective, but it certainly made the direction seem choppy. Without input from Pre himself, so many aspects of his friendship and love life are skewed by the perspective of the person that is recounting it, and can be questioned in both movies. To observe it is to change it, as they say. I would certainly say if you asked for the story of my uneventful life from 2 different ex-girlfriends, you would probably get 2 completely different stories.
This movie seemed a little shallow in this area. It seemed like all it did to teach the audience about strategy and Pre's abilities was to say, "You are too slow to sprint, so you have to push the pace faster to make the kickers tired".
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Format: DVD
I really enjoy this film and, admittedly, probably for a lot of reasons external to the film itself. I am a distance runner from Oregon. Thus, the legend of Pre is alive and kicking from where I am from. I read his biography as a high school runner and admired his dedication and commitment to a sport I was only just being introduced. Moreover, I have been to Eugene many times, run on "the track," and seen the spot of his untimely death. This film is an inspiring film; if you are a runner, you must see it. It will make you want to get up off the couch and go for an easy ten.
The acting in this film is better than in "Prefontaine," the other film documenting Pre's life produced a year before this film came out. Donald Sutherland's performance as Bill Bowerman is extremely moving and endearing. His connection with Pre is that of a father to a son. As far as historical accuracy, many will quibble about the details of Pre's life and relationships, but I am not overly concerned by this fact. As in literature, it is not the job of an author to necessarily render everything according to historical accuracy. Rather, he or she must create memorable characters that move and affect us. This film achieves just that.
While its interest will definitely appeal to those of the athletic (and, in particular, running) community, I believe that its message has a more universal appeal as well. Pre set out to conquer the world and ended up finally conquering himself and coming to peace with that fact. If you're looking for an uplifting, heartwarming story-you've come to the right place.
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