Sunday, 3 April 2016

Hot Pursuit

Everybody loves a buddy movie. From the early days of Laurel & Hardy, through the 1980s classics like Trading Places and Planes, Trains & Automobiles, up to modern hits like Shaun of the Dead and the Jump Street films; it’s a genre that people seem to like. Friendships work on screen and make for entertaining, relatable viewing. But 9 times out of 10, they ‘buddies’ in question are men. But since the surprise-success of Paul Feig’s The Heat in 2013, writers David Feeney and John Quaintance thought “hey, we can do that”, wrote an absolutely horrendous screenplay and set the Hot Pursuit wheels in motion. Director Anne Fletcher jumped on board this train of shit, along with Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara. At this point, there was no turning back. This film would be unleashed upon the world whether we liked it or not.

Out now on DVD & Blu-Ray, the awful Hot Pursuit is basically a girly remake of Midnight Run. The film stars Reese Witherspoon as an uptight by-the-book police officer who must protect Daniella (Vergara), the loud and outgoing widow of a drug boss, from crooked cops and murderous gunmen. Yes, it’s a story we’ve heard a hundred times before. But that’s not the only unoriginal thing about Hot Pursuit. The jokes are all recycled from older films and any form of twist or turn is something we can see coming a mile off. Watching Hot Pursuit gave me a serious feeling of déjà vu – have I seen this film before? Everyone has. But outside of its painfully predictable narrative, are the two leads good in it, I hear you cry…

Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara are decent enough actresses – hell, Witherspoon was nominated for 2014’s Wild – but here, they’re both as embarrassingly bad, unlikeable and unfunny as each other. It’s clear how different they are, so putting them together in a buddy film could be genius, right? Everyone loves an ‘odd couple’, with contrasting personalities bouncing off each other. But this is not the case in Hot Pursuit. Individually, the ladies have their issues here. Witherspoon speaks with an awful Southern accent throughout the film which is just uncomfortable to hear every time she speaks, while Vergara’s already-difficult-to-understand accent seems heightened in an attempt to get laughs – it doesn’t get laughs, it just means you’ll require a translator to understand what the hell she’s saying. The girls’ chemistry is plain to see, and you can’t deny they’re having fun on screen. But the film’s writers seem to have forgotten that the audience needs to be having fun too. This isn’t the girls’ fault – the outtakes over the end credits show a funny side to their chemistry that could’ve made the film a winner. But unfortunately, when they stick to Feeney and Quaintance’s dire screenplay, there isn’t one laugh to be had in Hot Pursuit.

But at the end of the day, one can almost forgive weak jokes if the narrative is strong. But it’s one of the most cliché-stuffed and predictable narratives you’ll find - filled with forced, dumb explanations and preposterous twists that only serve to keep the heroes on the move, from location-to-location and making for an almost ‘road trip’ feel. And like all crime comedy films of this nature, particularly the Will Ferrell starrer Get Hard, there are constant attempts to hint at a greater plot and some sort of conspiracy where friends turn out to be enemies, culminating in a tonal shift for a dramatic crime climax. It’s a daft, rushed ending that hopes to surprise and enthral the viewer. But unfortunately, even at a short length of 80 minutes, the viewer has absolutely no interest in the film by this point. They are, like me, just waiting for the film to end and the pain to stop.

Hot Pursuit is a totally uninspired, unoriginal and lazy film that seems totally clueless in its delivery of ‘jokes’, plot developments and any sort of filmmaking talent. This is no surprise, coming from a director whose body of work is made up by Step Up, 27 Dresses, The Proposal and The Guilt Trip. Not exactly a budding Orson Welles, is she? Let’s cut to the chase. Hot Pursuit is just a despicable film. It’s not even remotely amusing or entertaining, and only serves to make its audiences sad and angry. Steer clear of it.

In Spinal Tap’s Shark Sandwich style, my Hot Pursuit review could easily be a 2-word review - “Shit Pursuit”.  1/5.


Sam Love

Hot Pursuit at CeX

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