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Review by Rich Cline |
dir Michael Dowse
scr Tripper Clancy
prd John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein
with Kumail Nanjiani, Dave Bautista, Mira Sorvino, Iko Uwais, Natalie Morales, Betty Gilpin, Karen Gillan, Jimmy Tatro, Steve Howey, Amber Chardae Robinson, Amin Joseph, Rene Moran
release US/UK 12.Jul.19
19/US Fox 1h33
This is a clear attempt to throwback to those mid-budget 1980s buddy action comedies. The formula isn't as easy to get right as it seems, and indeed this movie stumbles from the start. Director Michael Dowse, who knows a thing or two about oddball comedy (see Fubar or Goon), yet he forces everything here. So chaotic camerawork and editing leave the action incoherent, and overplayed humour is rarely funny.
Driving an Uber after his shop-clerk job finishes, Stu (Nanjiani) is investing in a gym with his friend Becca (Gilpin), on whom he has a secret crush. Then Stu picks up detective Vic (Bautista), blind from eye surgery that morning and chasing drug dealer Teijo (Uwais), with whom he has personal unfinished business. As they race around Los Angeles, the question is whether they can solve the crime in time for Stu to finally hook up with Becca and for Vic to attend the opening of his daughter Nicole's (Morales) first art exhibition.
It also happens to be the hottest day in decades, which doesn't quite make sense since there's a thunderstorm in the evening (not how weather works in Southern California). But then this has nothing to do with the plot, which overflows with irrelevant details. Clancy's script never quite clicks into gear, merely bouncing along the surface with the most obvious thematic references and lazily contrived twists. There's some amusing banter along the way, but it never brings the bromance to life.
Nanjiani's terrific comic timing is barely visible, as he's mainly required to scream at the top of his lungs through each scene. There are brief moments when he conveys Stu's personality, but he's constantly interrupted by explosive nonsense. Bautista struggles as well, likeable as usual but subdued by the silly physicality. Vic's dramatic plot points are never addressed. But then, pretty much everyone is wasted in this movie. Sorvino (as Vic's boss) gets no comedy at all, and Uwais only has one cool fight sequence, and it's obliterated by shaky-cam.
Even undemanding audiences will struggle to enjoy this, since it so stubbornly refuses to deliver either laughs or thrills. It feels like it was haphazardly assembled from a variety of formulaic story elements, including some rather bold references to other action heroes. But by failing to connect the superficial nuttiness to resonant characters, the movie feels eerily unfinished. And while there might be a few decent gags along the way, it's a shame that it never comes together.
R E A D E R R E V I E W SStill waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2019 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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