Off Limits is a well-crafted story that explores the underbelly of 1968 Saigon well enough as two undercover detectives (Willem Dafoe, Gregory Hines) go about to solve a string of prostitute murders by a high-ranking army officer. While the plot and characterizations are well worked out, what this production lacks is enough pizzazz to distinguish it from others of this genre.
Dafoe and Hines stick together like glue, working diligently in the sticky Saigon heat with equally racist attitudes about ‘gooks’ and ‘slopes.’ Dafoe is a little more hot-tempered and Hines only slightly less intense.
This is much more a civilian story that only twice puts the action out in the country where the bombs are exploding. As such, with the exception of one scene where a sadist colonel, whom Dafoe and Hines suspect of being the sicko murderer, is pushing Vietcong out of a helicopter, lensing could have been accomplished on the backlot.
Director Christopher Crowe has tried to make a tough picture with sensitivity, though it’s the former that mostly prevails. Dafoe has a platonic affection for a nun (Amanda Pays) who counsels prostitutes and takes care of their children. Fred Ward is particularly good as the partners’ superior, Master Sgt Dix.