In "Hot Pursuit," an uptight and by-the-book cop (Witherspoon) tries to protect the sexy and outgoing widow (Vergara) of a drug boss as they race through Texas, pursued by crooked cops and murderous gunmen. (from Warner Bros.)
Every once in a while, an entry into the buddy action film works so well that it takes audiences by storm. One of my favorite buddy series (well, at least some of the series) was Rush Hour, which started in 1998 and spawned two sequels (and an upcoming TV show minus its cinematic leads). For that one, we had Chinese superstar Jackie Chan unlikely paired up with fast-talking American comedian Chris Tucker. They tried this technique a few years later again with Chan teaming him with Owen Wilson for Shanghai Noon, taking the idea to the Old West. The concept worked again. For 2015, the ladies get a new buddy action film as clumsy by-the-book cop Cooper, played by Reese Witherspoon, is tasked to take a witness into witness protection, named Daniella Riva, played by Latina actress Sofia Vergara. In some ways, the match-up feels a lot like Rush Hour, except while Chan was the uptight cop who could barely speak English, they swapped some traits between the two leads here so Sofia ended up being more like Chan and Tucker at the same time (and there are even outtakes during the credits--just like with Rush Hour--which often show Sofia messing up her English lines, and Witherspoon messing up her Spanish).
Hot Pursuit, while not very original and even at times fairly predictable, just has a good-natured feel to it that makes it enjoyable right out of the gate. Witherspoon and Vergara, while an unlikely pair, play off each other surprisingly well (even if it is a little weird to see Witherspoon in a comedy role again, after having successfully made the transition to a serious, dramatic actor). It quickly becomes a rapid-fire series of unfortunate events as the two find themselves on the run, and I couldn't help finding myself thinking "Oh come on, this isn't nearly as bad as the reviews made it sound." However, Hot Pursuit is one of those films that kind of loses steam about halfway through. It's not that it doesn't still have its moments, but the material isn't nearly as strong or the plot develops poorly (or the idea just feels tired after a while). In any case, as things progress and sometimes get more absurd, it loses a little of the fun of the beginning--especially when they don't quite play up the "buddy" aspect of the film enough to give the movie some added drama or some plot surprises. Whatever the reason, Hot Pursuit does run out of breath some before the credits roll.
But, to be fair, it just isn't a fresh concept, and so, even during its most well-intentioned of seen-before ideas, you kind of feel like it's a bit too familiar. But Witherspoon and Vergara are clearly having fun here, and it's kind of hard not to let some of that rub off on you. Oddly enough, though, the rest of the cast is either unrecognizable or B-list type actors, and it actually gives the film a smaller feel overall. They introduce a love interest for Witherspoon's Cooper that the pair run into along the way, and he's about as cookie cutter as they come. There's even a moment where Cooper accidentally walks in on him naked in a hotel room, and it feels as ridiculous (and as predictable) as that sounds. Also, some of the villains in the film are "surprises" when it comes to the plot, and it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, nor does it seem necessary for the story. If you can let it slide, given that we're talking about a buddy action comedy, it's passable, but it also feels a little too typical for the genre. Basically, you can't overthink this one too much.
The content is surprisingly not nearly as rough as I expected, but it still has some surprisingly crass or violent moments when you least expect them. For example, Riva teases Cooper about a recent date she had and asks her about some sexual tricks or games she may have played (all of which Cooper didn't know what she was referring to). In another scene, a man with a rifle accidentally shoots off his own finger and we clearly see the bloody stump and severed finger. It's played for laughs, but still shocking in the moment (and kind of gross). Also in that scene, Riva was trying to convince the guy that they two were lesbian lovers to make him let them go (which also doesn't really make any sense), and so she was tried to kiss and grope Cooper who was resisting the whole time. Aside from the aforementioned scene where Cooper walks in on Randy naked in the hotel room (we just see his bare chest and part of his side/upper thigh), Cooper tries to force her way onto a bus to escape people pursuing them and tries to convince the bus driver--who she thinks is driving a band's bus--that she can do all kinds of sex acts for the band members. We soon find out it's a seniors sight-seeing tour, and some whistle at her after she's finally let on board. Lastly, Cooper dresses as a boy to sneak into a party and Riva is disgusted by the way she looks. At one point, they're in the bathroom with Cooper trying to coach Riva to hide a wire on her person while she's on the floor looking up at Riva in a stall, and a woman comes into the bathroom immediately thinking Cooper is just a perverted boy who snuck into the ladies' room. As far as profanity goes, there's one "Mother effin'"--spoken just that way--a handful of "S" words, and a few uses of blasphemy (as well as quite a few uses of "Oh my G-d!"). The language usage is surprisingly infrequent compared to most movies under the PG-13 banner these days.
While not nearly as much of a lost cause as some reviews let on, Hot Pursuit isn't quite the comedy it probably set out to be, more appropriately falling into the category of the kind you pick up for a few dollars out of the bargain bin to resort to on a rainy weeknight. Witherspoon and Vergara make it watchable (and the film's audience is much more geared towards the ladies here) while everything else kind of makes it nearly immediately forgettable. Still, you can probably do far worse in choosing a comedy to watch than Hot Pursuit.- John DiBiase (reviewed: 8/9/15)
The Womance (3:05) - Here we see a montage of Sofia and Reese goofing off on set. We also see the director Anne Fletcher having fun as well. The actresses also briefly talk about working together and their chemistry.
Hot Pursuit: Say What? (3:46) - This little featurette focuses on how Sofia would mess up her English lines -- and Reese trying to speak Spanish.
Action Like a Lady (2:26) focuses on the action sequences and stunts of Hot Pursuit, showing a montage of many of those film's moments.
Alternate Ending (1:28) - Don't get too excited about the "Alternate Ending." This is just a montage that shows all of the characters Riva and Cooper encountered throughout the film and where they ended up at the end of the film, being interviewed for a TV report, apparently. It was best left on the cutting room floor.- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 8/9/15)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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