HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE

PG-13
Reviews

A valentine to Los Angeles, Hollywood Homicide ranges from Beverly Hills mansions to transvestite hookers, from underground hip-hop clubs to shopping on Rodeo Drive. 'Commingling' is the buzzword of choice, with everybody pursuing at least two strategies towards making it big. A cop can also be a yoga instructor, or a realtor, or an aspiring actor, while groupies carry head shots and pitch screenplays. Breezy and disposable, the film is great summer fun whenever it doesn't take itself seriously.

Homicide detective Joe Gavilan (Harrison Ford) is balancing alimony payments, mortgages, and a mansion he can't unload while fending off an Internal Affairs investigation from rival cop Bennie Macko (Bruce Greenwood). Joe's partner K.C. Calden (Josh Hartnett) isn't sure he even wants to be a cop, what with his upcoming acting showcase. The two are assigned to a multiple slaying in a nightclub owned by Julius (Master P).

The murdered musicians were all under contract to Antoine Sartain (Isaiah Washington), an ex-con who owns a record label. Sartain may have an alibi, but his security head Wasley (Dwight Yoakam) doesn't like the cops nosing around. He engineers two more killings that might wind up helping Macko prosecute Joe.

Joe's relationship with Hollywood madam Cleo (Lolita Davidovich) is also under scrutiny. Once Macko finds out that Joe is having an affair with his girlfriend Ruby (Lena Olin), a radio psychic, it's only a matter of time before Joe is arrested. But Joe and K.C. still have one shot at cracking the case and wriggling out of Macko's grasp.

It takes director Ron Shelton and his writing partner Robert Souza a long time to get the story rolling, and even then the effort to tie every plot strand together periodically grinds the film to a dead stop. What's more, Hollywood Homicide slips from lovable to crass with alarming frequency, at least until the plot zeroes in on Joe and Ruby. The well-mannered Ford has some trouble getting under Joe's uncouth skin at first, but he seems right at home with the agelessly beautiful Olin, who adds a welcome dollop of addle-brained vanity to her scenes.

Hartnett is amusing enough in a surprisingly slight role, and Shelton finds time to fit in brief contributions from Davidovich, Martin Landau, Eric Idle, Gladys Knight, Robert Wagner and even Smokey Robinson. There's a well-crafted and stunt-filled chase to round out the climax, giving Hollywood Homicide the formula if not the heart for a summer hit.

--Daniel Eagan