There is not a second of Hot Pursuit that suggests it was written, directed, or even hatched by an adult human being of acceptable cognition. It repeats many of the standard tropes that made old screwball comedies so hearty and loveable, but without any conviction, intellect, or thirst for genuine quality. It stars two talented actresses, but they’re not given anything funny to do, which I suppose is justified, since there’s nothing funny for the script to give them.
This is the kind of movie Hollywood executives cobble together in order to match celebrities who are at the top of their game, with no fuss, no hassle, maximum profits. I can only imagine heads of departments slouched in their high-back chairs struggling to find a funny Hispanic actress for that “complex role” and deciding finally that the only clear choice is the supermodel who acts in that TV series about modern families. What about Reese Witherspoon? She must have picked up the screenplay (or whatever was left of it) and thought “Hot Pursuit” was the sequel to Bullitt (1968) everyone was hoping for.
Witherspoon plays Officer Rose Cooper, who begins the movie as a baby in the backseat of her dad’s cop car and literally grows into a pretty teenager, still in the backseat (I am sure no police force on Earth allows for that many bring-your-daughter-to-work days, but whatever). Then it’s the present, and she’s chasing a man through the alleyways of San Antonio. Why? She pulled her gun out during their lunch date (!) and it scared him off. Oh, and he left his wallet behind. Sure.
Sofía Vergara plays Mrs Daniella Riva, the spouse of a known cartel associate who’s about to fly to Dallas to testify against his boss, effectively placing him and Daniella in protective custody and the boss in prison. After an overdrawn and lacklustre shootout at the Riva household consumes the lives of Daniella’s husband and Cooper’s partner, the two have no choice but to stick together, because, damn it, Cooper is gonna get Mrs Riva to Dallas if it’s the last thing she does.
And then it’s the usual buddy road trip movie, with stopovers in dingy pubs, convenience stores, and the standard: The random farmhouse in the middle of nowhere that always seems to be harbouring a gun-wielding psychopath. For reasons never made clear (not that I’m going to lose sleep over it), two detectives from the San Antonio police department decide to hunt Mrs Riva and Cooper across the state. One of them looks uncannily like the taller brother of Matthew McConaughey. What I love about them is their never-ending ability to find the two women, no matter how far they lag behind or how distant the women get. Then there’s a rendezvous with the sexy southern truck driver (Robert Kazinsky), who’s also on the run, and a showdown at a quinceañera that fulfils all the comedy/action movie cliches at one go. It’s kind of skilful.
The biggest cliche of all, though, has to be the character Witherspoon has fashioned. Cooper is a technical straight arrow. She speaks as if reciting the bill of rights, and refers to stealing a car as “commandeering a personal vehicle”. She doesn’t know how to smile, nor has she been on a date that’s — well, you know how it ended. It’s always about the job. But in all honesty, looking at the way Cooper struggles to get anything right, including her accent, it’s a miracle she’s still on the force.
Do Vergara and Witherspoon at least have some chemistry between them? Possibly, especially during a scene that requires them to behave like enamoured lesbians in front of a Texan farmer. Okay, no. I’m kidding. That scene is actually sickly. What’s left? I suppose you might enjoy the bloopers that roll during the end credits, but then again, even that’s been done before.
Best Moment | Nope.
Worst Moment | I’m serious — all of it.