Hollywood Homicide (2003) **
Directed by Ron Shelton. Written by Shelton & Robert Souza. Photography, Barry Peterson. Editing, Paul Seydor. Production design, Jim Bissell. Music, Alex Wurman.
An action (much) comedy (some) movie which has the originality of real Los Angeles sets and the un-originality of a buddy-picture. It teams a police veteran (Ford, now 60) with a much younger near-rookie (Hartnett, 24.) The age disparity might be a peripheral distraction for some viewers, but the true distraction for impecunious spectators is the holocaust of shiny cars in the last part of the movie
Another distraction for this viewer-reviewer is Ford's youthfulness. At a recent talk-show, though primped and powdered the star and did look his grandfatherly age. But in the film he seems to be at least 10 years younger. Now THAT rejuvenation is veritable magic by the makeup people. There's real talent there.
The basic gimmick here, and a good one if you suspend disbelief, is that both partners are moonlighting. Ford is also a real estate broker. The heart of Hartnett -a lawman for unconvincing reasons -is in the theater. He is rehearsing, with mixed results, the Stanley Kowalski/ Marlon Brando part in "A Streetcar Named Desire." Additionally he believes in the "symbiotic relationship" of yoga and adds to his income by teaching a class for women. Beautiful women. Women who all go for him. We get one sample scene of teacher and student in bed.
Multi-divorced, hard-drinking (but non-smoking) Ford's external affairs comprise sex with the still attractive Lena Olin and, in the business sense of "affairs" an albatross of a poperty that interferes with his police duties. This gimmick does have comic potential but is far too broadly exploited.
The partners are assigned the case of collective killing of rappers. The investigation too has potential but blows it by and large. We also get much of Los Angeles at night, with more cars than people and more hookers than cars. This too - as well as an Internal Affairs investigation--could have been much better integrated into the plot. Said plot wanders, meanders, is erratic and ravels rather than unravel. Among its poorly developed building-blocks we get Lolita Davidovich as a Madam friendly with Ford; African-American tycoons; a would-be funny chase in the canals of Venice, California; potentially funny rap stuff; the partners having separate, equal and simultaneous sex with ladies in tub; Martin Landau as a movie tycoon selling his palatial home; and many other haphazardly placed elements. There 's even a handcuffed criminal who, in the police station, manages to seize a cop's revolver and fire 15 rounds. There's also, would you believe it, morgue humor.
Please! Enough is enough is enough. All this with Ford going over the top but, to his credit, remaining likable as usual--shades of Indiana Jones -even when his part makes little sense.
The last section of the flick is when the obligatory car chases come in. They do it with a spectacular vengeance. It is all grist for the special effects mill, hardly believable but technically impressive comic book stuff. The bullets fly like rain, and when the motorized inferno changes into person-to-person chases, it all culminates into wildly overdone action and overkill. The sequences lose their spark and get frankly boring.
A handful of really funny episodes do stand out but I best remember to. A couple of men steal Ford's car, to his delight. Heroically his young partner saves the day --to Ford's chagrin, as the "thieves" were repo-men and Ford was (don't ask) pleased with what they were doing.
Later on, Ford commandeers a taxi and its driver for a chase. As our hero starts the cab, its driver quickly sets his meter. That's the film's best moment -and saying this is a back-handed compliment for an entity that would have worked nicely had the script been re-written over and over again.