Unfortunately for Perry, it's April 1992, and not a very good time to be an arrogant, white LAPD officer. The Rodney King trial has set L.A. on the precipice of Armageddon, and the verdict - to be announced imminently - has become the focal point for a metropolis simmering with class and racial tension. Perry, however, has more pressing matters to worry about. His partner, a wet-behind-the-ears rookie named Bobby Keough (played with baby-faced blankness by ex-Felicity hunk Scott Speedman), has screwed up an arrest, and Perry - always looking to back up a fellow brother in blue - has killed the defenseless perp (with Keough's gun) rather than letting him escape. The film begins with both officers knee-deep into lying their way through an eight-hour inquiry, since Perry has decided that his incompetent protégé should take the heat for the killing anyway. As far as Perry is concerned, one's first shooting inquiry is a right of passage - a baptism into an immoral system that's primarily sworn to protect and serve its own members.
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This spurious conjecture is sadly far more interesting than How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, a film which effectively loses its audience inside of 10 minutes.
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The opening shot of Michael Mann's masterfully crafted boxer biography "Ali" is an image from behind a punching bag being pounded by the champ in rapid musical rhythm. As the bag flashes by with a strobe-like effect, that intensely focused gaze Muhammad Ali is famous for -- that laser beam look that means he's tuned out the world, that stare as steely as a freight train bearing down on you -- beams out of Will Smith's eyes.
It is the one and only time in the film you'll even remember the star's name, because for the next two and a half hours Smith inhabits Ali -- his power, grace, ego, humor and body language, inside and outside the ring -- as well as any actor could.
Choosing to focus on ten momentous years in Ali's life, Mann's round by round, bobbing and weaving narrative style assumes at least a passing knowledge of the fighter's life, merely dropping in on pivotal events without spending much time catching the audience up on the particulars of who, when and where.
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"Dark Blue" is a movie that asks you to believe that during the worst hours of the riots following the Rodney King beating verdict, the brass of the Los Angeles Police Department -- and a gallery full of reporters -- would have nothing better to do than hold a speech-intensive promotion ceremony for a handful of detectives.
It's a police corruption drama in which high-ranking officers are crooked for crooked's sake and not because they have anything to gain from their vice. Its imagined grittiness is polished to a Hollywood high gloss. Its hard-edged dialogue, intended to be disturbingly frank and nonchalant about corruption and use of excessive police force, has had all its shock value re-written and over-rehearsed right out of it. And its story is stamped from a well-worn template, built around a hard-drinking rogue cop (Kurt Russell) with marital problems, a violent streak and an Academy-fresh partner (Scott Speedman) who has yet to lose his ideals on the harsh streets of South Central.
The film opens with a graphically ruthless convenience store robbery (four people are brutally murdered) that is juxtaposed, for the sake of neon-sign irony, with a police hearing at which Speedman is being let off the hook for a fatal shooting only three weeks after joining the force as Russell's partner. Following a round of drinks and pats on the back with higher-ups that include Speedman's powerful, corrupt uncle (Brendan Gleeson), the jaded veteran and his protege are assigned to investigate the robbery. More specifically they're told to pin it on two black petty criminals, even as they discover, through unlikely clues, that there was more to the crime than meets the eye.
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A curious thing happened after the press screening of "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" -- I talked to several young women from the audience who described the movie as "cute" and "fun." But every single guy I spoke with had the same reaction I did: They thought this so-called romantic comedy was nothing short of absolute torture.
Could Hollywood have inadvertently stumbled upon the definitive, gender-dividing, no-middle-ground chick flick?
There's no question that the picture's target audience is female. Its heroine is a sparky columnist for a Cosmo-like magazine (played by Kate Hudson) who accepts an assignment to catch herself some handsome rube, then deliberately drive him away within 10 days by committing "all the classic dating mistakes."
Continue reading: How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days Review