review by Dan
Lybarger, 13 June 2003
sequence of Hollywood Homicide
sums up much of what could have made the film work and what often
goes terribly wrong.
detective Joe Gavilan, Harrison Ford is instantly recognizable even
though it's the first time he's actually showed his age in a film.
Despite the gray hairs, Gavilan still wields a pistol with
intimidating finesse. Every shot is a direct hit to the appropriate
parts of the target. There's a hint of authenticity because all the
cops in this target practice session wear earplugs.
That sense of
realism vanishes when we see Joe's partner K.C. Calden (Josh
Hartnett) take his shots. The neophyte detective misses with every
shot he fires. Gavilan gets so annoyed that he starts shooting at
Calden's target almost out of spite.
The sequence is
mildly amusing, but it leaves viewers with a nagging "yeah,
right" feeling that lingers throughout the film. A quick call
to my library and a visit to the LAPDís official web site
indicates their cops are tested for a minimum level of competency
with a pistol. Police cadets without this proficiency probably
arenít asked to apply. Itís hard to set an appropriate mood when
filmmakers go to the trouble of making sure that target practice
features real ergonomic devices like earplugs but strain credibility
for the sake of a joke that elicits just a few giggles. If youíre
going to risk suspension of disbelief, it had better be damn funny.
clever, quirky movie eagerly trying to emerge from Hollywood
Homicide. Co-Writer and Director Ron Sheltonís films often
focus on aspects of his characterís professions that donít get
covered in movies. In Bull
Durham, viewers get to hear baseball playersí inner thoughts
or get to hear them do surprising but credible things like debate
the merits of Susan Sontagís novels. In Hollywood
Homicide, the story spends as much time following the cops on
their moonlighting gigs as their case. Itís no secret that cops
receive unfairly paltry salaries. Gavilan tries to make ends meet
through real estate deals, while Calden teaches yoga. The latterís
side gig has an almost magnetic effect on women even though he
canít remember their names. This trait bodes poorly for his
ambitions to be an actor.Gavilan lacks his partnerís female
adoration, but after a series of disastrous marriages, heís taken
up with a radio psychic (Lena Olin).
gags might seem a little silly (Gavilan negotiates home sales in the
middle of high-speed chases), but co-writer Robert Souza has
actually served as one of LAís finest and probably knows things
that movies often ignore. The most entertaining moments in Hollywood Homicide occur during these scenes. Calden and his
witnesses, who also long to be stars, sometimes trade scripts for 8"
by 10"s, and Ford shows some unexpected comic timing when he
tries to juggle a home sale with an Internal Affairs investigation
Ford looks like
heís actually enjoying the change of pace, so itís a shame that
Hartnett seems to be spending the flick trying to catch up with him.
He isnít helped by the fact that his character is stuck with a few
too many cop movie clichťs. Yes, Caldenís father was a policeman
who died in the line of duty, and one of the other characters in
film later turns out to be responsible.
Homicide really loses its
footing when it tries too diligently to be a conventional police
drama. The two partnersí other jobs have irked Internal Affairs,
particularly a bitter fellow named Bennie Macko (Bruce Greenwood, 13
Keeping Macko off
their cases is enough of a hassle, but the two are also
investigating a deadly nightclub shooting that may involve a
prominent record company owner (Isaiah Washington).
obviousness of this guyís guilt (heís clearly modeled after Suge
Knight) blunts the narrative. Thereís no tension to at all.
Unfortunately, because this is a Harrison Ford movie, there almost
seems to be a contractual obligation to stick in protracted action
scenes. Itís a rare flick that gets dull during the car chases. Hollywood
Homicide manages because it really doesnít do anything new
out on the heels of the more creative and adrenaline-pumping vehicle
pursuits in The Matrix
Reloaded and The Italian
Job does not help, and having the chase barreling through the
same Hollywood Boulevard and Highland location of the latter film
exacerbates the dťjŗ vu.
has a gift for creating off-kilter characters (like Rosie Perezís
as the quiz show-obsessed girlfriend in White
Men Canít Jump), and both he and Ford could have put it to
much better use. Hollywood Homicide inadvertently proves that eye candy can be less
interesting than believable people.