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Hollywood's Unsolved Mysteries

. "Hollywood Homicide"

It's not so easy to come up with new equations for worn formulas but that's not going to stop filmmakers from trying. To give the over-familiar old cop-young cop buddy picture new life, writer-director Ron Shelton has given his two guys more on their minds than catching the hoodlums who pulled off a gangland-style murder of an emerging rap group in a hip-hop nightclub.

On the case is hard-nosed veteran detective Joe Gavilan (Harrison Ford) whose anxieties are shared between the investigation at hand and the real estate deals that are escaping him. His young partner K.C. Calden (Josh Hartnett) who has girls ga-ga over him both in his yoga class and pretty much wherever he walks, is thinking of quitting police work in order to devote full time to his "bliss", acting. Everyone's got to follow their bliss, don't they?

The dueling pursuits result in comedic moments, as intended, while the actual detective work has a laid-back inevitability to it, as though the cast has read the last act and know they're going to get there, so let's not allow too much effort muck it up. But the police footwork does get our guys around to the labyrinth of greed among rap music producers, and into the lair of the unscrupulous Sartain (Isaiah Washington).

Adding to Gavilan's problems is an attack on his professional conduct by Internal Affairs officer Bennie Macko (Bruce Greenwood) who is out to get him any way possible for a previous slight. This becomes magnified when Macko's psychic ex, (Lena Olin), takes a shine to Gavilan, resulting in some tasteful undercover probing.

The attractive supporting cast ropes in Martin Landau as the rich producer selling his mansion, Lolita Davidovich as a sly informant, Lou Diamond Philips turned out as a female undercover cop, Dwight Yoakum as a senior grade dirty cop, Gladys Knight without her Pips but in full command of her acting assignment, Dre', Dr. Dre, Kurupt, Eric Idle, and the list goes on.

Harrison Ford displays what star power is all about with his natural audience magnetism. His relaxed self confidence turned to comedic timing works for theatre goers across the age spectrum. Josh Hartnett's Gary Cooperish good looks, notably seen in more serious contexts in "Pearl Harbor" and "Black Hawk Down", takes on some of the spacey aura of new age enlightenment for added dimension and another notch of capability on his belt of credits.

Production shot: Seen from the streets of Hollywood.
We believe this was for filming the rooftop chase scene in Hollywood Homicide.
Pats on the back to Ron Shelton and his casting team for bringing in two lustrous actresses whom we don't see all that much and who deserve far more attention than they receive: Lena Olin ("Alias" TV series and "Chocolat") and Lolita Davidovich ("The Agency" TV series and "Mystery, Alaska"). These are two ladies with great pluck and depth.

Beyond that talent explosion, the film is definitely worth seeing for anyone who likes Hollywood and wants to see their action staged on the landmark streets and buildings of the town. Chases exploit the locality with furious speed amidst tongue-in-cheek comedy. Intercutting life-endangering mayhem with negotiating a real estate deal may not be everyone's idea of hilarity, but it does demonstrate a spirited sense of action and fun.

"Hollywood Homicide" is an appropriate title and a light moment. Don't confuse it with literary depth.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  


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Josh Hartnett and harrison Ford
On the case.

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