Director: Anne Fletcher
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara & Robert Kazinsky
Synopsis: An uptight and by the book cop tries to protect the outgoing widow of a drug boss as they race through Texas pursued by cooked cops and murderous gunmen
Rating: 12A Run time: 87 minutes Release date: November 23 (UK)
Buddy comedies are nothing new. The format has been done to death on film and in television and has become such a staple of modern culture that films like Hot Pursuit can almost be predicted scene for scene. The key is to find two actors wAho have a great chemistry and compliment each other in a way that endears them towards the audience. Does Hot Pursuit manage this? Well, yes and no with a bit of maybe thrown in.
The film begins with an introduction to Reese Witherspoon’s rigid Police Officer Rose Cooper. We see her practically grow up in the back of her father’s police car, ensuring her fate as a career police officer. Another brief introduction is thrown the audiences way when we see an adult Rose chasing a man from a restaurant, only this man is running away from Officer Cooper when their date gets too intense and she decides to pull her gun on him. It’s a neat scene, that sets up Witherspoon’s character for the rest of the film.
When we see Rose at her police station, it becomes apparent that she is the laughing stock of her squadron and has been demoted to desk duty, while several of the officers and detectives poke fun at her for an incident that occurred when she tased an individual who called “shotgun” before entering his friends car. Seeing a chance to redeem herself and get her flagging career going again, Cooper seizes the opportunity to help the DEA escort a defendant and his wife so they can give evidence in court.
The initial set up doesn’t take too long to get going and hurriedly moves along in order to partner Cooper with Daniella Riva (Sofia Vergara). Hilarity, apparently, ensues as the mismatched couple find themselves set-up and on the run from crooked police and government agents, while trying to prove their innocence.
The trouble with Hot Pursuit is that it never quite stamps its authority. The tone is silly, even though it does try to impose a dramatic edge near the films end, and never quite hits the high notes you wish it would. Witherspoon and Vergara are fine in their roles, but the dialogue and set pieces are poorly thought out and never make full use of either actresses comedic chops. This is a shame, as you feel there is something between the two which could have been better exploited if the film were in more capable hands.
Director Anne Fletcher, while far from being a hack, has failed to, so far, make a film of any real note. The likes of Step Up, 27 Dresses and The Proposal are films aiming for the casual film goer and do nothing more than pass a few hours. This is fine in one sense; there really is nothing wrong with films being used as light entertainment on a Friday night, yet it feels like there is more here that is going untapped.
Likewise, the supporting cast is largely wasted here. Richard T. Jones adds some much needed charisma to proceedings, but is sadly not in the film long enough to make any real impact. John Carroll Lynch shows up as Cooper’s Police Captain, but is reserved to a handful of scenes which fail to make full use of his talents. Robert Kazinsky makes a late appearance as Randy, a love interest for Rose, yet rather than seem like a necessary character he only appears when the director thinks he is needed as a plot device.
Despite all this, Hot Pursuit does have some funny moments. Seeing Witherspoon run around a supermarket out of her head after accidentally inhaling cocaine is a treat, while Vergara gets to chew on some of the better lines in the film. It is a pity then that more is not made of their respective talents and we are left with a film that is full of potential but delivers little.
The supplements on the Hot Pursuit disc are unfortunately as predictable and dull as the film itself. The Womance focuses on how much fun everyone had making the film and is filled with behind the scenes footage of the cast and crew enjoying themselves. It’s typical disc filler which runs at a mercilessly short 3:05 minutes. Hot Pursuit: Say What (3:06 minutes) carries on the tone set with The Womance and show more behind the scenes hilarity, as well as Witherspoon and Vergara telling the camera how wonderful everyone is.
Action Like a Lady (2:26 minutes) is, once again, more of the same but with a larger focus on the set pieces and the stunts featured in the film. An alternate ending (1:08) completes the supplements, but was wisely discarded and looks like it was taken from a TV special rather than a Hollywood production.