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Hollywood Homicide

Should Harrison Ford be making comedies? Tough call. He certainly has shown the ability as an actor to rise above his material — his prefer-a-straight-fight Han Solo (along with John Williams' score) helped elevate Star Wars from a melodramatic space opera to a sublime moviegoing experience. Likewise, his instincts for comic reactions — at times vociferous — gave the Indiana Jones series a distinct personality. But since then, Ford (the most profitable movie star in history) has built his career with roles that capitalize on his notable stone-faced determination in the face of adversity — Blade Runner, Witness, The Fugitive, Air Force One, and the Jack Ryan movies are why he's had a career long after the original Star Wars series was put to rest. But it's Ford's comic choices that are puzzling — he was charming in Working Girl and the 1995 remake of Sabrina (in the Bogart role, naturally), whereas Six Days, Seven Nights was an abrasive mess. And now comes Hollywood Homicide (2003), a buddy-cop film that tries to be too many things at once, and misfires on nearly every level. Ford stars as LAPD Det. Joe Gavilan, who has spent too many years on the job — in fact, his entrepreneurial streak has led him to selling real estate in his spare time. Partner K.C. Calden (Josh Hartnett) is likewise disillusioned with his time on the beat, and he's prepared to turn in his shield for life as a starving young actor. But a quadruple-homicide at a Hollywood club soon has record producer Antoine Sartain (Isaiah Washington) under investigation. And while Det. Galivan is investigating Sartain, Internal Affairs Lt. Bennie Macko (Bruce Greenwood) is looking into Galivan's financial affairs. Note that Galivan is currently boffing radio host Ruby (Lena Olin), who is Macko's ex. The younger, earnest Calden, on the other hand, is shagging nearly every girl in Hollywood. And in the midst of the investigations, Galivan is trying to sell a movie producer's house to a local club owner (Martin Landau and Master P fill in here). Sound wacky? Hollywood Homicide certainly wants to be, but it doesn't manage to deliver the goods. Some of the problem lies with the material. A standard cop film can become greater than its parts when the actors find ways to make the story more personal or unique — the Lethal Weapon franchise would be a dud without Mel Gibson and Danny Glover's improvised bickering, while Eddie Murphy managed to take a bland script written for Sylvester Stallone (Beverly Hills Cop) and turn it into box-office gold. Here, the various jokes and setups and awkward situations are the movie's raison d'etre, which does little to spice up the plot's boilerplate formulas. Ford plays his burnt-out exasperation to the hilt, but too often the timing feels stilted and the editing too slow. Hartnett — perhaps the most bland young guy in Hollywood at the moment — is as pretty as a boy-band refugee, and just as interesting. The entire project is only saved by the final 30 minutes, when the detective work/real-estate negotiations/yoga classes give way to an extended chase through the streets of L.A. The editing becomes crisper, and (guess what?) the jokes quite a bit funnier. At one point, an infuriated, panicked Ford tries to commandeer a car from a civilian and fails. In a split-second, he seizes a bicycle from a young girl and raises it aloft, screaming "Ahahahah!" with manic glee. Give the man a little room — and the right editor — and he can deliver the funny. Columbia TriStar's DVD release of Hollywood Homicide features a clear anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with a pan-and-scan option on a separate layer, while audio is in Dolby Digital 5.1. Director Ron Shelton contributes a subdued, scene-specific commentary. Trailers, keep-case.

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