Ron Shelton (Bull Durham) directs Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett (Black Hawk Down) who star as Joe Gavilan and K.C. Calden, two detectives on a new case involving multiple homicides. You really get to know the main characters as the story keeps the essentials of a detective movie (demanding superiors – Bruce Greenwood and Keith David, love interests including Lena Olin and vicious bad guys especially Isaiah Washington who plays Sartain) while avoiding stereotypical pitfalls of bigger budget movies where every scene requires an explosion or an expletive.
“Getting excited never solved any problems” accurately represents the tone of these two detectives who’ve been partners for about four months. Gavilan stays easy going, but not ‘happy go lucky’. One morning Gavilan reads an unflattering newspaper article about their current case, but instead of reacting with groans or whines, he just says, “Just a tough case, that’s all.”
Gavilan and Calden constantly discuss their dissatisfactions with their careers and pursue opportunities ranging from real estate to acting with some great comic effects. One comic setup involving a cross dressing police officer undercover doesn’t quite hit the mark, but a situation involving some repo men could’ve been used more than once as a running joke involving Galivan.
Most of the comedy will make you laugh, especially Gavilan’s Gingko/Viagra joke, as both detectives stay busy throughout their investigation. Characters who stay busy don’t always entertain the audience, but this movie works because the story spends more time in their personal lives as they “explore all the possibilities life has to offer.”
This well made movie knows the necessities and limitations of the detective genre. For instance, notice how no flashbacks are used to explain the suspicious death of Calden’s father, a former police officer. It’s all explained clearly in the dialogue. The story stays simple, but suspenseful, so you probably won’t feel left behind. Watch for a hint in Sartain’s dialogue that will lead you to his surprising connection to another prominent character.
Gladys Knight and Smokey Robinson have smaller, but prominent roles and Robert Wagner has a non-speaking cameo. Martin Landau and Lolita Davidovich also star. Recommended (*** out of four stars) and rated PG-13 for violence, sexual situations and language.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler