Monday, May 19, 2014

Shakedown


  Shakedown is part courtroom drama, and then... part arcade game. I say that with sincere affection. I also avoid the term 'video game' because, video games in this day and age are synonymous with choice and non-linear gameplay. As I pair the term 'arcade game' to the action/adventure element of the movie, I do not infer choice and in fact, I infer something very very linear. These car chases, and shootouts, and stunts, all remind me of those batshit crazy sidescroller action games in the arcade where you played the blue cop, and your buddy played the red cop, and you blasted your way through level after level of baddies, provided your pockets were deep enough...

  Pockets just so happen to run very deep in Shakedown, because (spoiler?) the climax includes a speeding Porsche, a runway shootout, and Sam Elliot clinging to the landing gear of a plane in-flight. Yep. Rewind to the beginning and watch the whole thing, and you'll find a surprisingly well thought out courtroom drama interspersed between these ballsy action scenes. The characters in Shakedown are fun. They're fun, because they're well acted, and well written. Which is more than I can say for most 50 cent movies I buy from the local goodwill on VHS, because also surprisingly... Shakedown was one of the them. Peter Weller plays a fed-up, overworked attorney, and Sam Elliot plays a rough-around-the-edges cop who ends up helping him out with a case.

  Weller is working a case about a drug dealer who's convicted of murdering a cop. Weller has to prove that it was merely self defense and said cop is a crooked cop who tried to steal the drug dealer's money. If that doesn't sound like an uphill battle, I don't know what does. Anyways, all roads lead to shootouts and drug lords, so naturally Weller, a mere lawyer, isn't going to go it alone- he has his cop buddy, (Sam Elliot) help him out with the shooting and stuff. It's an effective little duo, and one that made for a hell of a 90-something minute ride.

  The big problem with this movie is that there's no development between Weller and Elliot, unless I nodded off or got distracted for huge chunks of the movie (unfortunately, it's very likely) but as far as I remember... they already knew each other, and just sorta kinda started working together. They have great chemistry, but no real connection. Weller is the main character, and he gets the lion's share of the screentime. Most of which is devoted to his personal relationship problems and an old flame coming back into his life. While this is all well written, I didn't really care. I mean, it kept my attention pretty damn well, but I didn't care. There was another buddy cop movie with James Woods and Michael J. Fox called The Hard Way which pulled it off much better.

  Again, I may have just... spectacularly forgotten stuff, cause it feels that way, but Sam Elliot's character is painfully peripheral here. He shows up when Weller needs him, and that's that. He has NO personal storyline that needs to be resolved in the end. He barely has a minute of speaking time. He probably fires more bullets than he speaks words. Not that he needs to. He's Sam fuckin' Elliot. The dude's stare alone is badass, and usually you get all of him when he's in a movie. They should name a gun after this dude. Anyways, his dynamic with Weller boils down to who drives, and who shoots. It's so much fun.

   They have great chemistry, and the action scenes definitely rely on that. This movie feels like half a Lethal Weapon, more action and less courtroom- and it'd be a whole Lethal Weapon-esque buddy cop movie. Alas, what we have is unique enough to warrant a viewing. I enjoyed myself, I'm glad I bought it, and I'll see it again sometime. It's nothing amazingly special, but it's fun and well made. What more can you ask for?

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