Dir: Ron Shelton. US. 2003. 115mins
You can't hit a home run every time you come up to bat, but director Ron Shelton (Bull Durham, Tin Cup, White Men Can't Jump) strikes out completely with his latest film, a buddy-buddy action comedy set not in the world of sports but against the backdrop of the Los Angeles Police Department. It's the writer/director's second cop film in a row, following the violent drama Dark Blue, released earlier this year, which featured an outstanding performance by Kurt Russell. The only thing that stands out in Hollywood Homicide is the total lack of energy and effort which seems to have gone into the film. While Hartnett's teen-plus fan base may be willing to sit through this lame exercise just to see the young heartthrob, it's difficult to imagine many others paying double-digit prices for the dubious privilege. Ford fans will only be disappointed in their once-golden boy.
Ford plays Joe Gavilan, a seasoned but weary homicide detective who moonlights as a real estate agent - and seems disinterested in both professions. His rookie partner, K.C. Calden (Hartnett), is a bean sprouts and tofu kind of guy, who would rather be teaching yoga or rehearsing for an acting audition than doing police work. While investigating the gangland-style slaughter of four members of a rising rap group, the pair learns that they themselves are targets of a trumped up Internal Affairs probe, initiated by a police higher-up who's got it in for Gavilan. Olin plays Ford's sexy psychic love interest, while Washington, as the picture's chief villain, proves that even in a bad movie he can command the screen.
The whole film feels tired and, what's worse, lazy. The dual-track storyline - the murder case and the internal affairs investigation - proves only that two uninteresting plot threads are no better than one. Sluggish pacing doesn't help. Co-written by Shelton and Souza, the script lacks either sharp wit or low laughs. It tries to milk humour from the two men's contrasting life styles, but it's a weak effort. "Joe, you don't respect me for wanting to be an actor," KC tells his partner earnestly. "Acting is my bliss. I have to follow my bliss." Ford's humour rests on awkward sight and physical gags, as when his character tries to conduct real estate business on his cell phone while in hot pursuit of a bad guy, or when he jumps into a car driven by KC and his tired, old bones end up sprawled across the back seat.
The film isn't disorganised enough to be considered a mess; it's just boring. Everybody involved with the production has done far better work before - and most certainly will again.
Prod cos: Pitt/Shelton Productions, Revolution Studios
US dist: Columbia Pictures
Intl dist: Columbia TriStar
Exec prods: Joe Roth, David Lester
Prods: Lou Pitt, Ron Shelton
Scr: Robert Souza & Ron Shelton
Cinematography: Barry Peterson
Prod des: Jim Bissell
Ed: Paul Seydor
Music: Alex Wurman
Main cast: Harrison Ford, Josh Hartnett, Lena Olin, Isaiah Washington