Hollywood Homicide
Directed by Ron Shelton
Written by Robert Souza, Ron Shelton
Starring Harrison Ford, Josh Hartnett


Hollywood Homicide

No doubt it sounded great at the studio meeting: Old detective sergeant Joe Gavilan (Harrison Ford), juggling three ex-wives, two kids and a second career as a real estate broker, matched with his partner, young K.C. Calden (Josh Hartnett), who teaches yoga to women in order to get to sleep with them, but really wants to be an actor in the worst way (a wish come true here as elsewhere in Hartnett's career so far), assigned to investigate a quadruple murder in a night club. Many opportunities are sitting around in that setup, waiting for jokes, double-entendres, and the kind of wit that Eddie Murphy brought to the first "Beverly Hills Cop" and Mel Gibson brought to the first "Lethal Weapon." But the script, by director Ron Shelton and cowriter Robert Souza, is both weak in wit and overstuffed with action. This is surprising and disappointing for Shelton, whose work includes the delicious "Bull Durham" and the witty "White Men Can't Jump."

Ford, who's now 61 years old, looks like Hartnett's grandfather. Neither of them seems comfortable with Shelton's lines, which lack originality anyway; and the slack editing doesn't help when shots are held just a beat too long. The story is simple, even generic. The murder trail leads to a rap-music tycoon (Isaiah Washington), who may be having his groups killed because they've realized he's cheating them. It's not much of a premise, but if it's coupled with Ford's desperate negotiation of real-estate deals, and Hartnett's desperate showcasing of his work in "A Streetcar Named Desire," as of course a low-rent Brando, it should work reasonably well.

That it doesn't is not the fault of the sexy Lena Olin, as a psychic girlfriend of Washington's who switches allegiances in the middle of the picture, nor of Lolita Davidovitch in the Heidi Fliess role as a madam, nor Martin Landau as a producer who wants to sell his house through Ford. But at two hours the film is at least twenty minutes too long, much of which consists of an extended double chase by Ford and Hartnett of two bad men. Somehow the film seems unable to choose between going for laughs and going for suspense, and it ends up sitting right between the two. It ends up being not bad, and not good; just forgettable. We'll hope that Shelton regains his old form next time.