HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE

An Illusion review by Joan Ellis


            Imagine an action movie with no plot at all.  That’s what filmmakers think they can do when they hire star insurance for their films.  After landing Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett for the leads in this cop movie, they apparently felt no obligation to the audience to develop a story to support the stars.  At a recent sneak preview, Harrison Ford’s name was enough to fill the theater.  People love sitting in the dark hoping  Hollywood will pop a grand surprise.  This time, Hollywood hurled an insult.

                The storyline deals with two LAPD homicide detectives investigating the murder of an entire rap group in a night club; the older of the two, Joe Gavilan (Harrison Ford), spends a lot of his down time trying to unload an elephantine house he is stuck with in his moonlighting job of house renovation.  That’s it; that’s the whole caboodle.  If you are looking for a connection between those sub plots, don’t bother.     

                We spend the entire length of this tedious movie watching serial car chases.  Every few minutes, something explodes – a car, a boat, a building, and none of it can advance a plot that isn’t there.  After the rap club explodes in gunfire, someone comments on the body count, “one on the floor, three backstage.”  Every time there is a new development, like Joe’s picking up a transvestite on the street, we hope it will signal a new development in the drama, but it never does. 

                To make up for the absence of story, the weight of the film is laid heavily on the shoulders of Ford and Hartnett.   They banter, and as the movie implodes from its own repetitiousness, the two actors yell and flail, two electrified stick figures set in fast forward to distract us.  So hard do they try to amuse us, we fairly expect their hair to stand on end. 

As K. C., Josh Hartnett paints an unconvincing portrait of a New Age aspiring spiritualist.  We know this because he likes bean sprouts, meditation, Yoga, and wants to be an actor.  Harrison Ford plays Joe in the Clint Eastwood manner, as a once good detective losing his running muscles to age.  He lumbers.  If you have stuck it out, you will see one funny scene toward the end where the detectives chase their quarry back and forth across the small bridges over a canal.  It is entirely possible that I was so desperate by that time that it seemed funnier than it actually was.   

                Why were the rappers murdered?  Why is the house sale in this story?  Why the sudden investigation of the homicide division?  Who are all these people?  Perhaps sensing the dimensions of their disaster, the filmmakers bring in choppers, cop cars, SUVs, convertibles, taxis, and bicycles – most of them burning.  Blame Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett only for saying yes to this inane project, and if you want to see the same thing done well, go see “The Italian Job.”

 


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