2015, R, 86 mins.
2015, R, 86 mins.
Reese Witherspoon as Cooper / Sofía Vergara as Daniella / Michael Mosley as Dixon / John Carroll Lynch as Captain Emmett / Richard T. Jones as Det Jackson
Directed by Anne Fletcher / Written by John Quaintance and David Feeney
HOT PURSUIT is so criminally awful in so many incalculable ways that I simply lost mental track as I left the screening and ventured home.
On one modest
positive note, the makers here are trying to establish a female-centric
footmark in a largely male dominated “buddy cop” movie genre.
I'll give this film points for that endeavor, which is no easy
feat in this cinematic day and age. Unfortunately,
swapping out the genders in this film hardly makes much of a difference,
seeing as HOT PURSUIT is relentlessly bereft of laughs, almost oozing
contemptuous comedic desperation all throughout its agonizing – but
mercifully brief – 86 minutes. Perhaps
most befuddling is how Reese Witherspoon followed up her remarkable Oscar
nominated work in WILD to appear in such
amateurish drivel...it's frankly embarrassing.
high profile Academy Award nominee has a NORBIT
in their closet, and HOT PURSUIT is certainly Witherspoon’s NORBIT.
She channels what morsel of good will and cheer here to play Rose
Cooper, a San Antonio police officer that has a rather large heart and
noble intentions, but past indiscretions in the field have left her
delegated to being stuck as a clerk in the evidence room (as for the
indiscretion in question...she accidentally tasered the mayor’s son).
All Cooper aspires to is a second chance to prove her relative
worth in the field, but her reputation for foolish mistakes stymies her at
every attempt. Her luck
changes when Captain Emmett (John Carroll Lynch) decides to assign Cooper
with a special escort mission to take Daniella (Sofia Vergara) to Dallas
so that she can testify against a vile and dangerous drug kingpin, Cortez (Joaquin Cosio). Predictably,
the road trip doesn’t start off particularly well, leaving Cooper and
Daniella to essentially go on the run after some assassins make their
lives miserable. Wacky would-be hilarious hijinks ensue…all being built up on
PURSUIT, simply put, looks like a B-grade production on most tangible
levels. The film was directed
by Anne Fletcher, whose past filmmaking resume sure leaves a lot to be
desired (27 DRESSES, THE
PROPOSAL, and THE GUILT TRIP
were all varying degrees of mediocre).
Nothing really about this production screams out “theatrical
feature!” It’s rather
shabbily constructed, insipidly shot, lazily edited, and never once
generates even a modest bit of intensity from its lackluster action
scenes. Everything presented
in this film just listlessly sits on the screen.
HOT PURSUIT, beyond its mournfully uninspiring aesthetic, also has
no real clue what type of film it’s trying to be.
Buddy cop film? Action
comedy? Chick flick?
A screwball romp? Fletcher sort of lazily throws everything up at the screen
and hopes that it will somehow miraculously stick.
Perhaps the most damning problem with the film is that it simply
feels like it was made of regurgitated extra pieces of countless other
similar genre films…and better ones at that.
has been riotously amusing in past films…when given the proper
opportunity to do just that. Yet,
Fletcher seems positively indifferent – or maybe just plain ol’ blind
– as to how to properly harness the actress’ unique skill set.
Witherspoon is not so much playing a flesh and blood human being
here as she is playing a shrill and obnoxious southern law
stereotype that becomes more distracting by the minute (oddly enough, for
an actress that’s from the south, her accent in the film feels woefully
and hyperactively forced and strained). Vergara is also capable of tickling funny bones (as on
display in TV’s MODERN FAMILY), but Daniella here has such a toxically
irritating personality in the film that you have to wonder why any human
being would find it worthwhile to be in her presence for more than a few
minutes. Vergara also plays
up to many overused Latino female clichés here like it was going
completely out of style. Between
Witherspoon’s irritatingly jumpy gung ho/super cop wanna-be and
Vergara’s equally dislikeable hot headed motormouth, I was left puzzled
as to why I should really care for either of these women and their plight,
guess that the only possibly saving grace in the film would be its humor,
but HOT PURSUIT fumbles the ball so badly in this department that it
inspires more incredulous headshaking than chuckles.
Watching Witherspoon and Vergara engage in pathetic cookie cutter
dialogue is off-putting enough, but then the film piles on scene after
scene of painfully artificial set pieces (a scene in a gas station
bathroom and an escape through a low hanging window comes to mind) that do
very little beyond inspiring audience lethargy.
Some moments are just disgusting, like one involving Cooper and
Daniella trying to convince a couple of suspected assassins to give them a
bathroom break…by going into nauseatingly endless detail about their
menstrual cycles. The scene
goes on for what seems like an unholy eternity.
I just wanted to assume the fetal position and cry in my theater
seat by this point.
I'm not sure what else I could possible say to relay why you should avoid this movie like the plague. HOT PURSUIT is so methodically and mechanically on autopilot in overall approach that it makes one want to collective check the pulses of the people in front of and behind the camera to ensure that they were indeed alive during the production. There’s almost no genuine comedic creative on display here; the film is a festering dead zone in terms of laughs, made all the more uncomfortable considering that you have to witness one of the finer actresses of her generation in Witherspoon make a fool out of herself for an hour and a half. HOT PURSUIT never even elevates itself above the simplistic moniker of low-rent cornball fun. The only thing that was not present during my screening of this film was a remote control with a MUTE button…or an option to just turn the film off and call it a day. Very few films featuring such respected talent fall with such an immediate thud right out of the gate as much as HOT PURSUIT.