I’ve always wondered whether the esteem of the Oscars would benefit from having a ‘take-back’ clause. If an actor (of either gender) has won an Oscar, but then goes on to make a crap movie in which they themselves are crap, the Oscar should then be reclaimed by the Academy. Think of all the actors who’s Oscar would no longer stand atop their mantelpiece: Nicholas Cage, Cuba Gooding Jr., Halle Berry, the list goes on.
Reese Witherspoon would now be added to that list.
Hot Pursuit stars Reese Witherspoon and Sofía Vergara as cop and criminal respectively. Witherspoon is Cooper, a too-by-the-book police officer who must escort Vergara’s Daniella to Dallas, so she can testify against a cartel leader. However, with two different groups out to kill them, the two female leads must team together in order to survive.
It doesn’t sound that funny, does it?
During the silent moments meant to be met with laughter, you can see – if you’re willing to look hard enough – the potential for some comedy. Not much, but some. Yet, it lies there, dormant, suffocated under lacklustre direction and desperate performances. The actresses know that the jokes aren’t landing, so they try harder, Witherspoon speaking faster and twitching a lot, Vergara whining her way into the Guinness Book of World Records.
And the jokes disappear further into the distance.
So, without comedy, the clichéd plot is laid bare for all to see. The cartel gang that chase after Cooper and Daniella are a generic breed, anonymous but never ominous. As fast as Cooper talks and urges Daniella, there is no momentum, no drive to the film. Instead, it plods on, the awful soundtrack scraping the ears, the dialogue puncturing the eardrums, the light being emitted from the screen only useful for checking your watch. 87 minutes has never felt longer.
Maybe that’s too harsh, but not by much.
The only element of Hot Pursuit that can in anyway be construed as a positive is that both actresses are really quite attractive. Witherspoon, nearing forty, can still convince as someone of twenty-seven, and Vergara’s beauty was her selling point long before people figured she was funny. The film knows that the leads are eye-catching, so utilizes this commodity as often and as annoyingly as possible. Hot Pursuit keeps finding contrived ways to show us close-ups of boobs and bums. ‘Oh, you’ve got a phone ringing in your bra? Hilarious, let’s get a close-up of your boobs so.’ However, before you rush to buy a ticket on the promise of promsicuity, Hot Pursuit is seldom sexy. In fact, there is possibly no scene this year as arduous and torturous as when Cooper and Daniella must pretend to be lesbian lovers.
It’s not sexy, it’s not funny, it’s just blah.
Hopefully Hot Pursuit will realign Witherspoon’s passion for creating good female films, like Wild and Gone Girl. She put her hand in the fire, and has been burnt accordingly.
Hot Pursuit isn’t bad enough to be interesting; it’s just bad enough to be boring.
by Rían Smith
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