With some movies, it takes a while before you get the impression that they’re going to be bad. With Hollywood Homicide, it takes about five minutes. The moment arrives when Harrison Ford, a veteran homicide detective surveying a grisly crime scene, responds to his young partner’s desire to make himself useful by giving him a complicated order for a hamburger. Not only is it not funny, but we get a cutaway to Keith David, playing another senior cop, chuckling appreciatively to signal to the audience just how funny it’s supposed to be. Oh, goodie, one thinks, not only are we going to get bad jokes, we’re going to have them spoon-fed.
Which is pretty much what happens for the next two hours. The story is about a multiple homicide at a dance club, an evil rap mogul, crooked ex-cops and just how funny it is that Ford’s character moonlights as a real estate agent and that his partner, played by Josh Hartnett, wants to be an actor. The problem isn’t with the directing or acting, which are both serviceable, but the script, which is abysmal, both in its unimaginative plot and dialogue. The movie seems to have been written by people who had studied the concept of jokes, but had never actually heard one. They know the formula, but not the funny. And to top it off, the last half hour of the film is an extended double-chase sequence.
More important, or more interesting, than all that is that Ford has apparently reached that point in his career where somebody’s decided that it would be advantageous to pair him with a handsome young up-and-comer. I’ve always thought that Ford’s stardom was unjustly earned, conferred upon him by dint of his having appeared in the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies, which would have been successful with almost any competent actor starring in them. He’s always seemed uncomfortable in the superstar realm, a stolid but anxious actor with fearful eyes. He often looks as if he were about to lose his grip or be found out, which is not an inappropriate look if you’re a fugitive or a president whose plane has been taken over by terrorists, but it’s a character actor’s look, not a leading man’s. I think he would be more suited playing a deeply disturbed person, maybe a child molester.
That, at any rate, was where my mind wandered to, watching Hollywood Homicide.
Richard C. Walls writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.