Hot Pursuit Review
A HOT PURSUIT THAT’S PAINFULLY BLAND
Over the years, there’s been special affinity towards the “Buddy Cop” films that Hollywood has produced. While its inception may date all the way back to Hollywood’s Golden Age, a strong presence of these types of movies was during the mid to late 80s and early 90s with such highlighted films as Lethal Weapon, Beverly Hills Cop, Die Hard, and Point Break. Recently, there’s been a resurgence of these types of films, but moving towards the more raunchy comedic side rather than gritty action premise. Movies like This Means War, The Heat, 21 Jump Street, Ride Along, and Let’s Be Cops are prime example of the new type of buddy cop movies. Following this particular trend, Warner Bros. Studios release their buddy-cop comedy with the film Hot Pursuit. Does this newest cop team-up rise to the occasion or gets caught in its own crosshairs?
Following her father’s footsteps, San Antonio Officer Cooper (Reese Witherspoon) is eager to show her talent as law enforcer, but is helplessly stuck as an officer monitoring the station’s evidence room. As luck would have it, an opportunity is handed to her by Captain Emmett (John Caroll Lynch) to prove herself in the field with the task of escorting Daniella (Sofia Vergara) to Dallas. Daniella is cooperating with the authorities and willing to testify against the murderous drug kingpin named Cortez (Joaquin Cosio). When the simplistic escorting detail gets botched by assassins, Cooper and Daniella go on the run, searching for a safe haven and evading the police, who have branded the pair as fugitives of the law. Unfortunately, the path to get to Dallas and set the record straight is wrought with danger with skeptical individuals. While trying to keep a low profile and receiving help from a convicted felon Randy (Robert Kazinsky), Cooper’s by-the-book prowess are put to use for the first time, testing her skills as a police officer and trying her patience with the pampered Daniella.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
Personally, buddy cop films have been fun escape through movies. I liked some of the more serious action oriented ones and even some of the more raunchy comedy ones of late. Director Anne Fletcher, who previously directed such romantic comedies as 27 Dresses and The Proposal, spins a new yarn in this film genre and offering a female pairing instead of the commonly used male one. An interesting concept on paper, but the result is sadly deplorable, making Hot Pursuit a dismal comedy that feels shallow, degrading, and humorless.
Like most buddy cop films, the two protagonists are polar opposite of each other, testing the strengths and weaknesses with one another and (by film’s end) have learned something that from their counterpart. It’s a tried and true formula that usually serves as the film’s underlining premise, tweaking the formula here and there for each particular movie. Hot Pursuit follows that same formula, but, besides the female duo protagonists, falls short. Its narrative is met with haphazardness with its two leads bumbling along, encountering various people and situations with shoddy storytelling elements that feel too generic to discern from others that have come before. Obvious good guys become bad guys, bickering banter, a thrown in love interest, and a falling out between the two leads that gets resolved are prime examples that Fletcher and her creative team are lackadaisical in creating an impressive screenplay for this film. Even the film’s third act, where the film’s resolution takes place, feels underwhelming and doesn’t feel earned. In short, Hot Pursuit is not original and handles its narrative poorly.
While the film is marketed as a buddy cop comedy, Hot Pursuit isn’t very funny. For the most part, its comedy is DOA (dead on arrival) with sparse pockets of chuckles. Throughout the film’s duration, I found myself hardly laughing at its comedy. I might have chuckled and / or smirked at certain points, but nothing impressive in comedic jokes and gags, which are mostly stereotyping and unoriginal. More to the point, all of the truly standout points of laughter were featured in the film’s trailer and TV spots. Besides those scenes, there’s no particular scene that truly standouts in terms of comedy relief. For a comedy feature, Hot Pursuit is in short supply of comedic charm.
Hot Pursuit’s two main leads, while both talented actresses, are mostly unfavorable in this comedy. Reese Witherspoon, who has starred in many comedies / dramas over the years and recently served as producer for such well-received films as Gone Girl and Wild, plays the character of Cooper blandly with the stereotypical untested, but gung-ho enthusiasm that doesn’t work quite well. Sofia Vergara, who many know as Gloria Pritchett from the hit television show Modern Family, plays her character of Daniella stereotypical as a loud Columbian woman with a heavy accented voice. This female pairing also lacks chemistry with one another, a crucial element in the buddy cop films, as their end-result friendship doesn’t feel congenial enough to buy into. Back stories are swiftly introduced and could’ve been expanded upon, but brushed aside for constant bickering, which ultimately boils down to constant jokes about Witherspoon’s height and Vergara’s age and whining in a Columbian accent. It’s really painfully sad to see such talented individuals waste their potential on such flat material and (adding insult to injury) producing the very same flat material.
Serving in more minor supporting role is Robert Kazinsky as the felon Randy. Kazinsky, who’s recognizable from roles HBO’s True Blood and Pacific Rim, is sadly underutilized as a strained love interest for Witherspoon’s Cooper and could’ve had larger role in the film. Joaquin Cosio’s part as Cortez is small and places as the run-of-the-mill Columbian kingpin mobster. And comedian Jim Gaffigan presence on-screen is more of a cameo as a gun-toting Hick, who crosses paths with Cooper and Daniella.
Fletcher’s Hot Pursuit wants to be funny, but dismally fails to do so. It’s a buddy cop film that doesn’t rise to occasion, feels way too generic, devoid of humorous laughs, and doesn’t deliver any type of profound performances from some of its more talented cast members. Die-hard fans of Witherspoon or Vergara might give this film a chance as a rental. For everyone else, skip this movie entirely as it brings nothing new or worthy of note from viewing it. For a running time of only eighty five minutes long, find something better do than watching this poorly conceived film. You’ll be glad you did.