Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Day Forty-three - The Presidio, or "Mark Harmon's NCIS Training."

There weren't a lot of hard boiled mysteries in the 80's.

Instead, it was the decade of the funny/buddy cop movie. Be it Beverly Hills Cop or Running Scared or 48 Hours, most detective stories were about the laughs, usually brought by streetwise underdogs with hearts of gold and mouths that never quit.

Pretty much gone were the days of the stoic cop who talked little and loved hard. Dirty Harry and the hard boiled detective were on their way out.

Oddly enough, though, one or two films cropped up that still stuck to noir tendencies and followed a rather logical set of reveals. All of the evidence is there to be discovered, it's just a matter of the investigators finding it and making the connections.

The Presidio is one of them.

Now, everything I've just said is a little unfair to several films. Eddie Murphy did a pretty decent job in Beverly Hills Cop. To be honest, that first one was actually good in how it laid out its mystery. Not great, as it relied on laughs too much and his comical interactions with Judge Reinhold and John Ashton, but good. And I love the chemistry between Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines in Running Scared, even if the plot is mostly meh. I mean, they spend a good quarter of the movie on vacation... shooting a music video, for crying out loud.

Anyways, back to The Presidio.

Starring Sean Connery and Mark Harmon as a pair of policemen (one military, the other civillian) who have a history. Their antagonism is established right from the start. It certainly doesn't help that Connery's uber-hot daughter, played by Meg Ryan, starts instantly dating the brash detective her father abhors.

Despite these seriously cheesy cliches, The Presidio performs decently as a movie of the week. I don't think it would ever win any awards, but I could definitely see it as a rental compromise when you couldn't choose between Pretty Woman for her and Commando for him (or vice versa, as would've been my case).

I really enjoyed the addition of supporting player Jack Warden (whom I loved in the original 12 Angry Men) as a sounding board for both father and daughter, spouting words of wisdom and showing up in a third act twist that had the minimum legwork, but really came as a shock. He was a great actor and filled the shoes of his role much better than the token CIA villain and his goons.

Personally, I think the weakest thing of this movie was the love story between Harmon and Ryan. Sure, they were cute together, though, I couldn't stop laughing when she popped his shirt buttons and buried herself in his chest hair, but the investigation lasts the length of the movie... and there's no real sense of time. Sure, a few of the lines imply that they've been seeing each other quite a bit, but compression of time for the hour-forty it fits into? Just can't believe it.

Especially when she starts dancing with an officer at an O-club function that she went with Harmon to, obviously trying to push him away. It's silly and clumsily done.

If I were to rewrite/reshoot, I'd add more about the catalyst for the whole movie, the murder of Harmon's female MP ex-partner. There was plenty of implied history there to be delved concerning her, Harmon, Connery, and first and second act villain Lawrence.

Still it's a harmless enough film that could've been done better, but was a pretty good example in the era.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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