Hollywood Homicide
Grade: B
Year: 2003
Director: Ron Shelton
Writer: Robert Souza
Genre: Action/Comedy
Rated: PG-13
By Scott Spicciati

“Hollywood Homicide” starts off unimpressively dull and derivative. If it weren’t for the spectacular finale, there would be little good to say about this otherwise a typical buddy-cop action movie. But the ending is a riot, so I recommend you see it. It’s a blend of action and comedy, with more stress on the comedy.

Writer-director Ron Shelton follows up with “Hollywood Homicide” after directing the impressively gritty drama, “Dark Blue,” which came and went earlier this year. “Dark Blue” dealt with police corruption during the infamous L.A. nearly a decade ago. “Homicide” also deals slightly with police corruption during modern times in L.A., although the tone is nowhere as serious despite the crimes committed.

Joe Gavilan (Harrison Ford) and partner K.C. Calden (Josh Hartnett) are working their latest homicide case in which four rappers were gunned down in a Hollywood nightclub. Their job will of course be to find the killers and everyone responsible for the shooting and the consequential events that will soon follow.

Both cops face a great conflict, but it has nothing to do with solving the big case. Sure, by the end of the movie they will have tracked down all of the who-done-its, and will of course shoot it out with all the perps, but the real conflict is not within the precinct, but elsewhere. As a side job, Gavilan is a real estate agent with no luck when it comes to selling a luxurious home on Mt. Olympus. Calden’s problem is that he aspires to be an actor but nobody takes him seriously. I assume both audiences and characters in the film don’t take K.C./Hartnett seriously as an actor. I never did, and I guess that is a reason to find this particular issue quite amusing.

Gavilan pushes his real estate business on the side, and Calden is a yoga instructor when he’s not rehearsing for a play. When they’re actually working as homicide detectives, their investigation leads them to a few suspects in the club shooting; club owner Julius Armas (Master P) and record mogul, Sartain (Isaiah Washington). It’s no plot giveaway by me telling you that Sartain is the mastermind, as we learn this very early on. The detectives do too, so rather than interrogate the club owner, Gavilan negotiates property he’s been trying to sell to him.

In addition to Gavilan and Calden’s investigation in the nightclub murders, another one is being led by internal-affairs investigator, Bennie Macko (Bruce Greenwood), a grudge-holding cop who's obsessed with finding something to nail Gavilan with. His own private team of investigators spend the entire movie following Gavilan and taking photographs of his encounters with suspicious characters. For most of it, the worst they can pin on him is minor stuff like drinking coffee on the job, but something turns up later that could possibly be incriminating, something I won’t reveal. Bennie’s obsession with nailing Gavilan is most likely because Gavilan is dating Bennie’s former lover, Ruby (Lena Olin), an important character in both investigations.

I wasn’t crazy about the first half of the film. The story is unimaginative and formulaic to many other duo cop movies, that is why the film relies on the conclusion to save it. Calden may be a good investigator, but as a cop, he can’t aim his gun for the life of him. Early on, we see Gavilan taking out Calden’s target during practice, an untouched bullseye. I was weary over the likelihood of this development. Maybe Calden should forget about being a cop (he’s not comfortable around dead bodies) and take acting more seriously. He ponders this idea as Gavilan will ponder his effectiveness as a Realtor.

That last 30 minutes of the movie run on auto pilot. Both Gavilan and Calden engage in their own pursuits on their suspects and we get to enjoy both chases from a humorous angle. Unlike most action filler movies, our attention isn’t on the good guy going after the bad guy, but what is happening to the good guy. We’re not worried about Gavilan trying to catch the criminal, we’re concerned he isn’t able to sell the house that was almost a sure-sell earlier on. With Calden, we’re not focusing on him catching the villain, but him trying to calm down the hysterical kids riding the back seat of the minivan he just hijacked while going after his thug.

If what I briefly described in the paragraph above seems strange, then you know when you walk into “Hollywood Homicide” you won’t be walking into the next in line buddy-cop movie. The originality of the characters makes up for the lack of it in the background story.

Both Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett have a good time playing in their respective roles, and I had just as must fun watching Ford perform a few pelvic thrusts during an interrogation scene where he is the suspect. For a movie about cops chasing murderous bad guys, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and I can appreciate that for a change.

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