Two goods cops, one white, one Hispanic, do battle with a drugs gang did someone mention Miami Vice? This cop thriller, set in the South Central part of LA, offers so much at the beginning but plays out like a fairly standard cops vs. drug-gang battle, albeit with good acting and nice photography.
Gyllenhaal and Peña are the two cops doing a Crocket and Tubbs, patrolling the streets of LA. When they pull over a driver they discover a huge money and guns haul two of the basic three food chains’, and are happy with their work. However they are baffled to discover that the case seems to be stalled in court, and decide to take their investigation further. They raid a suspect’s house to find evidence of human trafficking, but have their case taken over by forces higher than themselves.
It’s all well staged, with Gyllenhaal’s hand-held camera capturing much of the action for a project’ he is working on quite what that is is never explained. His and Pena’s banter in the police car is spontaneous, well-acted and occasionally very very funny, but ultimately it leads up a blind alley. Having introduced the theme of possible big city corruption the film never follows it up, happy instead to stage a series of shoot-outs and set pieces which are well done but frustratingly empty.
It becomes little more than a buddy movie, with the two men discussing women, kids and life and attending each other’s family parties. Gyllenhaal and Peña have genuine chemistry and seems to be enjoying themselves, and delighting in ribbing their fellow officers. A sequence involving saving a family from a burning house proves their commitment to the cause, and another involving two missing children proves nothing at all.
Overall verdict: In the end the story seems like a series of cases joined up to try and make one film, whereas it might have worked better as a TV cop series. A shame, considering the talent involved.
Reviewer: Mike Martin