Sometimes real estate and police work just don't mix.
With all due respect, Mr. Ford, but I think it's time to take the fedora and whip off your mantle before your clout disappears. Though he's still a superstar, Ford's latest flick Hollywood Homicide wasn't the mega blockbuster Columbia was hoping for. His previous action vehicle, 2002's K-19: The Widowmaker, also failed to drum up business, meaning Ford had better start making better choices when it comes to making movies. Maybe with Indiana Jones 4 it the works we'll finally see the old Harrison Ford we've all come to know and love—until then, there's Ford's 2003 disappointment, Hollywood Homicide, just out on DVD care of Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment.
Facts of the Case
Hollywood is the only place where almost everyone wants to be something else. Homicide detective Joe Gavilan (Harrison Ford) really wants to be a real estate agent. His partner, K.C. Calden (Hartnett), has a passion for the stage and yoga instruction, not dead bodies. When four popular rap group members turn up dead at a local nightclub, K.C. and Joe find themselves way in over their heads. It seems that the killings are connected to a rap mogul (Isaiah Washington, Exit Wounds) and his shady assistant (Dwight Yoakam, Panic Room), who may also have something to do with K.C.'s father's premature death. As the two Hollywood cops delve deeper and deeper into the case, they find themselves dodging not only the weirdness of Los Angeles but also intense gunfire, nutty psychics, and a horrid rendition of "A Street Car Named Desire"!
The buddy cop genre has officially been dead for well over a decade. And yet, like the most resilient of cockroaches, movies are still popping up with the exact same formula intact: a big crime, two partners, and lots of action and/or laughs. Hollywood Homicide follows this schematic without fail—plug Danny Glover and Mel Gibson into these roles, and Hollywood Homicide comes close to being Lethal Weapon 5.
And yet, I enjoyed Hollywood Homicide for what it is: silly, self-depreciating fun. As directed and co-written by Ron Shelton (Tim Cup, Bull Durham), Hollywood Homicide features a fine climactic car chase, a few witty moments, and a nice pairing of old Hollywood (Harrison Ford) and the new generation (Josh Hartnett). Ford looks especially gruff and grumpy as officer Gavilan, a man who's trying to make his mortgage payments any way he can—even if that means selling real estate while in pursuit of a wanted criminal. These little touches make Hollywood Homicide a movie that is far more entertaining than it should be.
I liked many of the smaller moments in this film, ones that maybe can only be appreciated by those who've lived in the wilds of Los Angeles. At one point during a freeway chase, choppers filled with attractive news reporters begin to hover, and don't go unnoticed by other characters in the film. In another scene Ford attempts to ply his trade as Hartnett races around downtown L.A. in a saucy convertible, further proof that some movies have about as much chance colliding with reality as I have becoming a nuclear physicist.
Ford and Hartnett work well together, and the one breath of fresh air is that these two partners actually like each other. This makes for a somewhat unique dynamic—instead of always fighting, they're sometimes waxing philosophical about women and fast food. The supporting players, including rapper Master P as a would-be client for Joe's real estate business and Bruce Greenwood (Double Jeopardy) as an inquisitive investigating officer, all do their jobs efficiently and effectively. And because this is a movie set in the jungles of Hollywood, the filmmakers have thrown in the requisite famous faces (Eric Idle, Robert Wagner, et cetera).
Hollywood Homicide is a lighthearted romp in familiar territory. I could complain about its redundancy, but what's the point? Though it may be feel as if it came straight off an assembly line, Hollywood Homicide's polished, well constructed nature makes it well worth a viewing.
Hollywood Homicide is presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen. Not many complaints here—Columbia has done a fine job of making sure this transfer is clean and very well rendered. The colors and black levels all appear to be in excellent shape without any gray tinting in the transfer. Grain, dirt, and edge enhancement were all absent. Overall, this is a very attractive looking print and a slam dunk for Columbia.
The soundtrack is presented in a very well mixed Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track in English. There are a multitude of effects in this mix, including a fair amount of gunfire, car chase effects, and background noise. Oh, and lest I forget, a classic Smokey Robinson song (the singer also has a cameo in the film)! Both the front and rear speakers are engaged almost the entire time, making for a well above average listen. Also included on this disc is a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround track in French, as well as English and French subtitles.
Because Hollywood Homicide wasn't a smash hit during the summer of 2003, it's not very surprising to find this disc almost void of special features. In fact, the only meaty supplement is a commentary track by director Ron Shelton. Shelton seems like a very amiable fellow who has a lot to say about the film's production, casting, and what it was like to work with superstar Harrison Ford. Fans of the film should enjoy this track—and why not? It's the only informative feature they're ever likely to get.
Also included on Hollywood Homicide are filmographies on Ford, Hartnett, Shelton, and writer Robert Souza, and theatrical trailers for various Columbia TriStar movies.
As enjoyable Friday night filler, you could do far worse than Hollywood Homicide. While it technically doesn't bring anything new to the table, I still enjoyed this by-the-numbers buddy cop romp.
Make Hollywood Homicide this weekend's date movie: the girls will love Ford and Hartnett, and the guys will get a kick out of the action!
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Scales of Justice
• Commentary Track by Director Ron Shelton
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