a critiQal film review Hollywood Homicide (2003)

  • DVD

Plot: Veteran detective Joe Gavilan (Ford), a weary but tenacious police veteran at the top of his game professionally, though his personal life is rapidly unraveling. His partner, K.C. Calden (Hartnett), seems to be more interested in his side jobs as a yoga teacher and aspiring actor than in the high-profile gangland-style murder they are currently investigating. Welcome to the land of blue skies, palm trees and dead bodies.

Reviewed
652 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 15s)

Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett made a movie together a few years back called Hollywood Homicide and I had wanted to check it out, but it got lost amongst the shuffle over the years. So, when it popped up again on the “Watch Instantly” page on NetFlix®, I decided to give it a shot. Would these two unlikely partners make for a fun buddy cop flick, or would they just clash?

Harrison Ford has been starting to show his age recently, in films like Firewall (2006). Surprisingly, he still looks in fightin’ shape for Hollywood Homicide – a definite plus for the film. Since the viewer doesn’t have to worry about him passing out from exertion (as they do later in, say, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)), they can concentrate on the rest of his performance instead. As usual, Ford is right on the money when it comes to humorous situations, and he’ll give the viewer an easy couple of chuckles as the film progresses.

Josh Hartnett does a decent job with his character as well, although he seems a bit confused as to which way to play the character. Since the character is going through a possible life change, that’s understandable, but it just comes off as a sort of muddled confusion most of the time.

The rest of the characters are decent, if rather one-dimensional – even love interest Lena Olin is barely sketched in. A lot of familiar faces pop up, with Dwight Yoakam – not having perfected his creepy business-suit guy yet that he showcases so much better in his brief scenes in Crank (2006) – is here, as are recognizable faces Bruce Greenwood, David Keith, Master P, Lolita Davidovich, Lou Diamond Phillips, Andre Benjamin and even Martin Landau. Unfortunately, either their appearances are incredibly brief, or they aren’t given much to work with, and none of them are really able to sink their teeth into their roles.

Isaiah Washington goes for his stereotypical street thug-turned-player role, and plays his bad guy with the same finesse and level of cool viewers have come to expect. Sure, it’s a little too pat by this point, but he’s still entertaining, at least during the setup of his character.

While Hollywood Homicide seems to have all the elements needed to make a great buddy cop flick, the script just isn’t able to use all the pieces cohesively, and the film plays out as wildly uneven. There are moments of action, moments of comedy, snippets of conversation that seem dead on – but it’s all mixed in and around a hodgepodge of other elements that either aren’t fleshed out or seem to be just thrown in for no apparent reason.

Rather than telling a complete story, the film seems to be just an interruption of the lives of these two partners. The viewer walks around with them while they solve a case and gets a brief glimpse into the chaos of their lives outside of work, then walks away from them after the case with all sorts of unanswered questions.

Most buddy cop flicks tend to delve a little bit more into the partners’ lives outside of work, filling out the characters and showing the viewer why they do what they do. In Hollywood Homicide their motives are a complete mystery – sometimes even to the characters themselves. Because the viewer is kept from getting to know the characters too well, the viewer isn’t as invested in their welfare, making the film more about the comedy than the action – while a buddy cop film should be solid on both fronts.

Hollywood Homicide does have it’s moments – an interrogation scene of the two partners is a high point – but the film spends most of it’s running time hunting for a rhythm it can never quite find. A decent rental, but nothing really separates it from all the other buddy cop flicks out there.

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