Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as a pair of ill-matched LA cops (Gibson’s an overwired killing machine, Glover a paragon of police respectability) who get involved in a drug-smuggling case and the usual action-movie carnage. The Gibson-Glover pairing—wacko shtick meets middle-class stick—is the stuff of inadvertent sitcom, though Glover’s elevation to stuffy bourgeois sainthood (he’s not only the perfect cop but also the perfect family man) seems designed to prove that all those things he did to Miss Celie in The Color Purple were actually a mistake (reversing the Spielberg image of irresponsible black manhood is the inescapable subtext here). Unfortunately, director Richard Donner (Superman, Ladyhawke) doesn’t pay much attention to text, subtext, or anything else; his 1987 film is empty glitz in search of a style, with arbitrary action substituting for ordinary narrative coherence. Donner’s topical references to Vietnam (both cops are army vets) don’t have much point, though Glover shows he understands what ‘Nam was all about when he destroys his own house in order to save it (from Gary Busey’s peroxide thug). That’s bringing the war home with a vengeance. With Mitchell Ryan, Traci Wolfe, and Darlene Love.
R • 1 hour 50 min • 1987