Hey, buddy action flicks! What happened to you? When I was a youngster in the 80’s, we had LETHAL WEAPON, BEVERLY HILLS COP, 48 HOURS. And the 90’s with MEN IN BLACK and a ton of sequels. I love a good buddy action flick. I even watched TURNER & HOOCH. Oh sure, there were bombs in those decades. I saw TANGO & CASH in the theater. Even a budding sexuality couldn’t hold my interest in Kurt Russel’s horrible lines. But there was enough to make me a fan.
And then the millennium happened. Did I get old or did buddy action films just plain decline into a mess of used up actors and poor dialogue? I didn’t even get past the trailers. The only ones that held my interest was LIVE FREE DIE HARD and HOT FUZZ. So you can say I took a break from buddy action films for about a decade. But I saw that trailer for WHITE HOUSE DOWN and I had to come back. This week I saw that and THE HEAT. I want to love again.
But I can’t.
And I will tell you this. I will tell you **EVERY SPOILER IN THE MOVIE** in this review because the plot is that much of a waste of a script. Just make a five minute film where Channing Tatum makes a sad face, tries to hug his daughter, looks surprised at Maggie Gyllenhal, something blows up, Tatum grabs Jamie Foxx, they laugh while Foxx holds a watch that once belonged to Lincoln, and then Tatum’s daughter hugs him. You’re done. The movie happened. Wasn’t it fun? Yeah. I just saved you money on tickets and popcorn.
Roland Emmerich is not my favorite director. Maybe I don’t get him. James Vanderbilt did okay with Spiderman, but now I wonder how much I liked was really someone else’s words. When it comes to buddy action flicks, I love comedy with a side of explosions and light on the character development. I want fun. I want to root for someone. I want to laugh. These two men failed me. Because they didn’t write or direct any funny. The explosions were, at best, a purposeful throwback to the 80’s. The characters were lead weights carried on the shoulders of Tatum and Foxx. I do not need statements about peace or politics in my action films. There’s no time for that between sexy body guards and Presidents losing rocket launchers. I do not need “pet the dog” bull shit like that damned squirrel in the first act. Please, please, never ever make Channing Tatum talk down a squirrel again. Never. Never. We are all above that. And how the hell do you take James Woods and think it’s more important to make him deal with his inner demons? Are you…have you…HELLO! James Woods! He is best as a shallow, over the top villain. Don’t make him such a pansy! I’m appalled.
Which leads me to cast. This is such a waste of a PERFECT cast. waste waste waste. Oh, the things I would do with James Woods and Richard Jenkins! And Jimmi Simpson? If you do not recognize the hacker in this film. Find him. Hunt him down on every tv show and film he’s done. Someone make him a super villain. He is such a pleasure to watch in this film….The eight words he speaks is a complete pleasure. Waste. Waste. Waste.
And our buddies. Great chemistry. Good bond. These two men deserve much better lines to deliver. Tatum is just a pretty face in this movie. He forces a solid performance out of a crappy script and direction with a comedic language barrier. My favorite horrible-ness is a scene where the woman doing him a favor basically tells him he now owes her sex. Yep, Tatum gets sexually harassed. Yay for equality. And the climactic scene (I told you I’d tell spoilers) where you think it’s bad, but really everything is fine because Abe Lincoln saved Jamie Foxx? I felt like I was watching the actors Foxx and Tatum laughing at the complete inanity of the pages they got handed that morning. These two men carried the movie as best they could and that scene was beyond hope. So they simply chuckled through it.
And for all those defending it because you think everyone was in on the joke, that this is an homage to the old action films. No. I went in hoping for that. And you people made me go in expecting HOT FUZZ. Woods gets jokes. He didn’t get this joke. Jenkins gets jokes. He didn’t get this joke. Our campiest didn’t camp. That’s a sign. Emmerich did not direct it as a joke. He was directing some kind of endearing characters, political triteness, empowerment crap. SHOWGIRLS with grenades. It’s SHOWGIRLS with grenades.
Is this the decline of the buddy action film? Can we simply not get a funny script greenlit these days? What am I missing here? I’ve been gone a decade and I come back to actors having to write the story as they go along because the writer and director can’t tell a story. I really hope I just picked the wrong movies. Please someone tell me this thirsty, hungry, desperate returning action fan has something to come home to.