Mulholland Falls is the preferred method of ridding 1950s L.A. of unwanted baddies, and it is most often used by a foursome of elite cops: Nick Nolte, Chazz Palminteri, Chris Penn, and Michael Madsen. Their newest mission: to find the murderer of Allison (Jennifer Connelly), a girl whose bizarre death leads the gang to a General (John Malkovich) at the Atomic Energy Commission and his number one thug (Treat Williams).
Could have been interesting, but it unfortunately isn't. The main problem appears to be substantial meddling with what likely started out as a good script. Instead, there are no surprises here at all. The plot is formulaic and leaves nothing to the imagination, and it moves at a snail's pace. Also, important expository scenes have been cut out to apparently give more screen time to the many big-name stars paraded through the film.
The most noticeable flaw in this regard is Melanie Griffith's character, playing Nolte's estranged wife, whose role is a complete throwaway but is used to try (and fails) to develop sympathy for her and her poor hubby. Almost as bad are Andrew McCarthy, as a stereotypical homosexual informer, and Connelly, who we see only in flashbacks. Note: when we do see her, we are treated to generous portions of surgically-enhanced cheesecake.
Still, the movie has its moments. The quartet is mostly entertaining when they interact among themselves, particularly Nolte and Palminteri. There are a number of nice lines of dialogue that really imbue the film with a sense of the macabre. And placing us against the backdrop of nuclear testing is somewhat thought-provoking and interesting. As well, director Lee Tamahori, who last did Once Were Warriors, is as capable here as can be expected given a lackluster script.
The bottom line is that Mulholland Falls runs in circles pretty slowly. You might expect a little more from an American film, but as Nolte's character puts it, "This isn't America; this is L.A."
Connelly set to fall.
Run time: 107 mins
In Theaters: Friday 26th April 1996
Distributed by: MGM Home Entertainment
Production compaines: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 31%
Fresh: 9 Rotten: 20
IMDB: 6.2 / 10
Director: Lee Tamahori
Producer: Richard D. Zanuck
Starring: Nick Nolte as Max Hoover, Melanie Griffith as Katherine Hoover, Chazz Palminteri as Elleroy Coolidge, Michael Madsen as Eddie Hall, Chris Penn as Arthur Relyea, Treat Williams as Colonel Nathan Fitzgerald, Jennifer Connelly as Allison Pond, Daniel Baldwin as McCafferty, Andrew McCarthy as Jimmy Fields, John Malkovich as General Thomas Timms, Kyle Chandler as Captain, Ed Lauter as Earl, Melinda Clarke as Cigarette Girl, Ernie Lively as Foreman, Suzanne Solari as Perino's Girl, Alisa Christensen as Spaghetti Girl, Bruce Dern as The Chief, Louise Fletcher as Esther, Rob Lowe as Hoodlum, William Petersen as Jack Flynn