Hollywood Homicide (12A)
One of the clues to the believability of this daft hybrid of cop drama and quirky comedy comes in the opening minutes as former Python Eric Idle, playing himself, is dragged protesting across the middle of a Hollywood police station.
It sends out a mixed message. This muddled film would have us believe that everybody in Hollywood has something to hide; audiences will, I venture, prefer to see the real message – this is a movie desperate for laughs, and which shows its desperation from the word go.
Hollywood Homicide pairs iconic Harrison Ford with rising Josh Hartnett as mis-matched detectives Joe Gavilan and K.C. Calden. Broke, divorced and on the slippery slope, Gavilan sells real estate as a sideline but still finds solace in the job of a cop. Calden, meanwhile, teaches yoga to Beverly Hills babes and wants to give up policing to become an actor.
So when a rap group is gunned down in a bloody attack on a Hollywood nightclub, both Gavilan and Calden find themselves juggling their moonlighting with their daily duties as detectives. It doesn’t help that Calden can’t shoot straight and Gavilan is more concerned with selling a house that has become a bricks-and-mortar albatross around his neck.
Their new case pitches them into a murky world of gangs, loyalties, betrayals, bent cops and Internal Affairs. Still, neither man has his eye on the ball: Gavilan is wooing radio psychic Ruby (slinky Lena Olin) while Calden is boning up on A Streetcar Named Desire and screaming “Stella!” in the crisp morning air.
Hollywood Homicide, from director Ron (Dark Blue) Shelton should by rights be titled Hollywood Misfire. It’s a real mess. It fails to operate on so many different levels that it is practically impossible to understand how so much talent could be involved. Aside from Ford, Hartnett, Olin and Shelton (and Idle) there is Martin Landau, Isaiah Washington, Bruce Greenwood, Lolita Davidovitch and even poor Lou Diamond Philips in a one-scene cameo.
In essence the film is sunk by its various sub-plots, all of which messily intertwine, the incoherent script (by Shelton and ex-cop Robert Souza), the unspoken father/son relationship between the principals and an array of actors who either play it dead straight or pepper their performances with laughs.
Buried beneath all of this is a credible and creditable thriller that links into the East Coast/West Coast rap rivalries of the 1990s when musicians who attempted to break their contracts were murdered, allegedly at the behest of their record company bosses.
There is also a chance to take a poke at the corrupt legions of the LAPD, just as Shelton did in the sensational Dark Blue. Here he perhaps felt he’d done that and so went for laughs. Big mistake.
At least Harrison Ford can still deliver. He does lots of running around, bares his manly if greying chest and, believe it or not, dances. Olin is impressed: “You’re a stud” she informs him after a night of candlelit passion.
At 61, the lad still has what it takes.
Star rating: ***