Film review: Hot Pursuit (12A)

CRIMINAL OUTING: Witherspoon and Vergara on the run.
CRIMINAL OUTING: Witherspoon and Vergara on the run.
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The Hollywood dream factory exists for one reason: to make money. Lots of it.

Unfortunately for profit-fixated studio executives, audiences are discerning and unpredictable so when a filmmaker accidentally stumbles upon a winning formula, competitors hurriedly churn out half-baked imitations in the hope that lightning might strike twice or thrice.

In 2013, Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy generated a tidy profit at the box office in the mismatched buddy cop comedy, The Heat.

They sizzled thanks to a tight script, peppered with one-liners and visual gags, and the glorious on-screen chemistry of the leads.

Two years later, Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara attempt in vain to peddle us Hot Pursuit, a mismatched cop ‘n’ crook comedy that should be retitled The Tepid.

Scriptwriters David Feeney and John Quaintance demonstrate a woefully limited understanding of their stereotypical female characters by targeting menstrual cycles, designer heels, lingerie and faux lesbianism for cheap laughs.

More troubling, the heroines are unlikeable in the midst of various shoot-outs and chases because they spend so much time bickering about their appearance and what they have concealed in their “chestal region”.

We quickly realise, the entire enterprise is a giant boob. Officer Rose Cooper (Witherspoon) is the laughing stock of San Antonio Police Department after an unfortunate incident with a taser gun.

Captain Emmett (John Carroll Lynch) offers her a chance at redemption by accompanying Deputy US Marshal Jackson (Richard T Jones) to the home of Felipe Riva (Vincent Laresca), a cartel informant, who has agreed to testify against notorious kingpin Vincente Cortez (Joaquin Cosio) at a court hearing in Dallas. Rose and Jackson arrive at the Riva homestead shortly before masked gunmen open fire.

Heading for the garage, Rose discovers Felipe’s terrified wife Daniella (Vergara) cowering in the back seat of a convertible.

The two women flee the bullet-riddled scene at high speed. In order to keep control of the hysterical spouse, Rose handcuffs herself to Daniella, which proves costly with Cortez’s henchmen and Detectives Hauser (Matthew Del Negro) and Dixon (Michael Mosley) on their trail.

“It’s my mission to get you to Dallas by 8am,” barks Rose, whose stern facade cracks when she catches the eye of a hunky farm hand called Randy (Robert Kazinsky), who digs her focus and intensity.

Occasionally, broad physical comedy warrants a chuckle, but it’s invariably followed by another poorly conceived and executed tumbleweed moment.

Witherspoon and Vergara are squandered in malnourished roles, trading insults about their respective height and Colombian accent.

There’s only one thing to do: lock up both actresses and throw away the key.

Rating: 2/5