Hollywood Homicide

Hollywood Homicide


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

When it comes to criticism, there is no justice. The usual complaint of cop movies is that they are formulaic and the characters are cut-outs. The problem with Hollywood Homicide is that it's not formulaic and the characters have a life outside their work.

Why's that a problem? A rap band is gunned down back stage in a club. LAPD detectives Joe Gavilan (Harrison Ford) and KC Calden (Josh Hartnett) arrive at the scene. There are clues - a pool of urine, a diamond earring and footprints in blood - but no obvious motive. Prime suspect, for reasons that are not made plain, is Antoine Sartain (Isaiah Washington), the owner of the dead singers' record label.

Copy picture

Instead of staying on the case, writer/director Ron Shelton delves into the lives of Joe and KC, which are complicated in a less than fascinating way. Joe moonshines as a real estate agent, so that he's always on the lookout for clients, even when on police business. He's had three wives, which means the alimony bills are high, and a new liaison with a radio psychic, called Ruby (Lena Olin), whose ex is a cop (Bruce Greenwood), now working for Internal Affairs.

KC can't shoot straight. He's into yoga, Tantra and even takes a class of nubile ladies, all of whom are in love with him. He doesn't want to be a cop at all. He wants to be an actor and carries around a copy of A Streetcar Named Desire, from which he rehearses lines for the performance he's going to be giving in a special one-night-only show for producers and casting directors. He's more serious about this than he is about who killed the rappers.

Ford plays it for laughs and he's not a comedian. Hartnett doesn't have to do much except be tall, lean and those things that girls like. The chemistry between them doesn't work, because the age difference is too obvious and it matters. Joe has been there, done that and should have retired. KC hasn't been there, doesn't want to go and shouldn't be wearing a badge.

Because of a multitude of sub-plots, the main one gets overlooked, until suddenly there's a car chase, or guns go off. Interest in the murder fades to nothing, which leaves Joe and Ruby (Viagra jokes), Joe and Internal Affairs (more fun), KC and Streetcar (a pain), KC and girls (innocent and quite charming). The best of the bad guys is an ex-cop who was involved in KC's dad's death - another sub-plot. What's interesting is that he's played by country singer Dwight Yoakam, who acts everyone else off the screen.

The only person who makes fun of being old and gets away with it is Clint Eastwood. It doesn't look convincing when Ford tries, because it's not coming from him, it's coming from the script. He's better as Jack Ryan in the formulaic Tom Clancy thrillers, which brings the argument full circle.

Building cardboard cut-outs into flesh-and-blood characters is a worthy endeavour, but Joe as the ageing Lothario and KC as the young stud doesn't do it. They should have stayed on the case and been better at the day job.

Who needs a private life when it's such a mess?

Reviewed on: 29 Aug 2003
Share this with others on...
Hollywood Homicide packshot
Detectives with second jobs on the side, investigate the death of a rap star.
Amazon link

Director: Ron Shelton

Writer: Robert Souza, Ron Shelton

Starring: Harrison Ford, Josh Hartnett, Lena Olin, Bruce Greenwood, Isaiah Washington, Lolita Davidovich, Keith David, Master P, Dwight Yoakum, Martin Landau, Lou Diamond Phillips, Gladys Knight

Year: 2003

Runtime: 111 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


Search database: