Review Date: February 17, 2003
Director: Ron Shelton
Writer: David Ayer
Producers: David Blocker, Sean Daniel
A badass veteran L.A. police officer is protective of his rookie partner as he teaches the young lass about how shite really works in the LAPD. But as the less experienced detective starts to form a mind of his own, he recognizes certain moral ambiguities to which he is not professionally comfortable (i.e. he wants to be a "good" cop, not a "bad" cop). Oh yeah, and did I mention that all this is going down as a quadruple homicide is slammed onto their desk and the L.A. race riots are rarin' to go? A deeper shade of blue ensues.
I love Kurt Russell and everything, Ving Rhames is the man and he knows it...but haven't we seen this shite done a thousand times till Tuesday already? I mean, the whole "corrupt police" thing has been done to death and so has the "rookie cop being trained by the older wiser officer" routine. Unless a filmmaker is willing to put something more original into the story, I say let's slap a moratorium on all "corrupt cop" flicks that recycle the same ol' garbage that we've already seen a dillion times before. If you want to see great "corrupt cop" movies, rent SERPICO, INTERNAL AFFAIRS, UNLAWFUL ENTRY, Q&A, or better yet, rent the DIRTY HARRY series and have a blast! (he's not corrupt, but he's badass!). Closer to home, both TRAINING DAY (written by the same dude who wrote this flick...surprise!) and NARC covered most of this ground even more recently. Is this a bad movie? Not really, but it's not a good or original one either and when you and I gotta reach deep down into our lint-laden pockets to shell out a couple of hard earned bucks to see a movie every week, why not do it for something that's gonna provide a little more zing and resonance, right? This is a pure video movie, through and through. Other than Kurt Russell and his manly hair, this film just doesn't ignite much on any front. There are spots of bad acting, specifically in relation to Scott Speedman and Lolita Davidovich (aka the director's wife), there are editing issues, the style never pulls you into its game, the plot is contrived at times ("My husband needs a defense lawyer..."-pleazzzzze!!), the L.A. riots angle might've been interesting on paper but feels more like a "device" here and ultimately, the film just never really bored or excited me on any kind of level.
The saddest part is that I can sort of see the remnants of a solid movie in here. For one, Russell is perfect as the badass cop with "moral" issues, and Rhames, steadfast as the black Deputy Chief looking to clean house...but where do they go with it? Well, they don't go anywhere with it, in fact, Rhames sadly doesn't have more than 4-5 scenes in the entire picture. Hello!?! Who gives a rat's ass about some rookie cop (who incidentally, has got to be the greenest and most na´ve police officer ever!) and some babe that he's dickin' on the side? Can we stick to the program here? It doesn't help that much of the plot is pretty see-through with every Tom, Dick and Whitebread chief playing the one-dimensional racist alcoholic pig and everything ultimately leading to a metaphor about how the L.A. race riots are correlated to cops and corruption, etc... Yeah, and unless you've had your head up your ass since 1991 or watched one episode of either NYPD BLUE, THE SHIELD or any other cop show on TV, you might actually be somewhat taken aback by these "revelations". Why not go beneath the surface? Why not delve into the grittier side of your story? Why dump the juicer, more engaging character in Rhames and go with the lame-duck babe with a piece? (I guess I answered my own question on that last one) How is one supposed to strike up a dialogue after seeing this movie, if everything is presented in black and white? (figuratively, that is...and yeah, maybe some pun intended as well) In the end, this film is probably not as bad as I might be making it out to be, but I guess it just struck a nerve with yours truly. With Russell at the helm, his hair intact, and his attitude, down and dirty...it could have been so much more. Add to that the fact that Russell doesn't enter or leave one scene in the entire film without a drink in his hand (sounds like the whole gang over at JoBlo.com). As it stands now though...it's your basic $1.99 video rental and not much more.
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian